Shrimp and grits are comfort food perfection! Enjoy them together in this easy to make and make-ahead casserole!
Before moving to the South 20 years ago, I never had grits, nor shrimp and grits. Frankly, grits scared me. I remember watching The Beverly Hillbillies as a kid and one of Granny’s “specialties” was grits and hog jowls. I’m certainly not a picky eater, but that was enough for me to consider them something vile or at the very least, bland and boring.
I finally tried them some years back when my husband and I stayed at an elegant antebellum bed-and-breakfast in Mississippi while taking the long way home from New Orleans. Breakfast was plated and served to all the guests and there they were in front of me: Grits.
Not boring, bland or vile, but creamy and amazing CHEESE GRITS. For the love all things good and righteous, why didn’t someone tell me Southerners ate them with CHEESE!
After that day and after enjoying shrimp and grits a number of times at area restaurants, I’m now somewhat of a fanatic.
Here’s that classic combination in casserole form. It’s inspired by a casserole that my dear friend Sharon brought to us last summer when I was recovering from a fractured kneecap. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I begged her for the recipe. This is my spin on her comforting dish.
For this recipe, use the type of grits you’re most comfortable with. If using stone-ground, cook them separately first, then add the vegetable combination and the remaining ingredients. Quick-cooking (not instant) also work in a casserole such as this because of the other textures. I don’t recommend instant for this dish. Here’s a great explanation of the subtle differences from The Kitchn.
Something else I’m a fanatic about is to always use wild-caught American shrimp. (Now…farmed and imported shrimp is something to be afraid of!) I do not eat shrimp nor will I prepare shrimp for my clients unless it’s wild-caught.
Nearly all commercial shrimp sold is individually quick-frozen. Shrimp sold in the seafood display case likely has been thawed. If purchasing thawed shrimp, be sure to use it quickly and don’t refreeze it.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of cooking and crumbling bacon, use “recipe ready” cooked and crumbled bacon available in the salad dressing area of the grocery store.
15 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
1 hr, 5 Total Time
2 tablespoons butter plus more for baking dish
1 bunch scallions, white and light-green part only, chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper (seeded if desired), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10-ounce) diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup quick-cooking grits (not instant)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 ounces large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and cooked
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups shredded Gouda cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish. Set aside.
Heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the scallion, red bell pepper and jalapeño pepper. Reduce heat to medium, cook 4-5 minutes or until beginning to soften.
Stir in garlic, diced tomatoes with chiles and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Stir continuously until mixture returns to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Stir in shrimp, bacon, egg and 1 cup cheese. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and bubbling. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving
MAKE AHEAD: Can be assembled 24 hours in advance. Baking time may be longer if casserole is super cold from the refrigerator. FREEZER-FRIENDLY: Cool, wrap securely and freeze. Thaw at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Increase baking time if casserole is super cold.