skip to Main Content

Shrimp ‘N Grits

Shrimp ‘N Grits

 OK, I may not be a Southerner and I may not have grown up with grits in my veins, but grits and polenta are just about the same thing. There are slight differences, but both are made from stone-ground cornmeal – dried corn that’s ground into smaller, coarser bits. 

According to a piece that ran on National Public Radio, Glen Roberts, founder of Anson Mills, says that Southern grits and Italian polenta are traditionally made from two very different types of corn, and there’s a difference in the fineness of the grind and how many times it’s milled.
Well, that may be true, but it gets complicated when you see so many different types of polenta for sale in Italy, from fine ground to coarse, and even polenta mixed with buckwheat, called polenta “taragna.”
Adding to the confusion is the myriad variety of grits available here in the states.
My instinct (and Italian heritage) almost always leads me to reach for polenta instead of grits. But on a trip to Charlestown last year, I bought a bag of grits at a farmer’s market, milled at Anson Mills.
What else to do with them, but make the ubiquitous shrimp and grits, found at myriad restaurants, diners and mom and pop cafes throughout the South.


The grits would be delicious on their own, with just a dab of butter, but I gussied them up and “Italianized” them with some mascarpone and parmesan.
Warning – you won’t be able to stop eating this. So save it as a splurge after a week of good behavior!
Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day. You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Shrimp ‘N Grits

1 cup grits
4 cups water
(Keep adding more as it gets drier)
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup parmesan
1 tsp salt
Mix the grits with the water over medium heat. I always use cold water and dump all the grits in at once. I find that helps keep out the lumps. Keep stirring and lower the heat somewhat – it may take 45 minutes to end up with really good, really creamy grits. If it looks like the mixture is getting too dense or too dry, add more water, a little at a time. Add the salt and keep stirring. After about 35-45 minutes, the grits will start to look creamier. To gild the lily, add the cream, mascarpone and parmesan.
18 medium Shrimp
3T Olive oil
Herbs, oregano, thyme, parsley
2 cloves garlic
Red pepper flakes
Clean the shrimp and mix the olive oil with the herbs, garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes. Let the shrimp marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Grill the shrimp, but just until almost done. They’ll cook a little longer with other ingredients. Remove the shrimp from the grill and set aside. (Use a grill pan or the broiler if you don’t have an outdoor grill)
1/4 cup green pepper, minced
1 T olive oil
2 strips bacon
Sauté green pepper in oil until softened. Remove. Add bacon, cut in bits. Cook until crispy.
Add green pepper back in and after shrimp is grilled, add it to the peppers and bacon. Turn up heat to high. Add the white wine and let it reduce just a bit, then add 1 tablespoon of butter.
Pour shrimp mixture over grits and serve with a sprinkle of parsley or basil over all.
This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. This is one of our favorite meals. I think Southerners just copied our polenta. Now I've never had grits for breakfast but it certainly is standard there. I think their grits is a little runnier than our polenta. Your dish looks extra yummy!! This is great any time of year! Thank you for reminding me to make some — I'll try your recipe 🙂

  2. Well, you added mascarpone and Parmesan so I am with you. I like to think the shrimp keeps it "light." Down home deliciousness. And if comforts – it must be Italian! (And congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  3. You post brought to mind a family trip to LA a number of years back in which our niece from Alabama joined us. Not much of a sophisticated eater at the time it was often necessary to provide an explanation of the dishes. One evening at Spago there was a pork chop and polenta entree, as I was deconstructing the particulars of the dish, she replied “oh grits, that sounds good" . Your dish combines the two cultures wonderfully with an impressive presentation.

  4. It seems to me that Italians have a natural affinity for grits. Like you say, we may not have grown up with grits in our veins, but ground cornmeal sure does…

  5. I LOVE this brand of Grits! I ate at a wonderful restaurant in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, called "Low Country Kitchen," which served a cheesy shrimp and grits with a tomato jam garnish that was out of this world delicious, and it was made with Anston Mills grits. Your recipe looks like another winner, Linda!

  6. I've always wondered what the exact difference was between grits and polenta. I don't think I've ever had grits. Your recipe looks wonderful.

  7. Ha! We both made shrimp & grits last month. Your recipe sounds amazing. Love the Italian influence to add mascarpone and parmesan – I will definitely use that idea 🙂

  8. I HAVE TO, no I MUST MAKE these grits with mascarpone and parmesan! How genius you are, Linda! You definitely picked up the most highly respected 'brand' of grits while you were in Charleston. In fact, this brand of grits are usually in a refrigerated cooler in stores that want to keep them as fresh as possible. Although I cannot eat shrimp due to my allergy, I have always dreamed of what Southern shrimp and grits tastes like since moving here 20 years ago. I enjoyed reading about the differences between polenta and grits, since I truly never knew what those small differences were/are. I'm always educated every time I visit your blog!
    Thank you for this Italian/Southern recipe!

Comments are closed.