This recipe comes to us courtesy of my friends Michael and Louise Pemberton, who used to live in Chapel Hill and who swear by the shrimp and grits served at Crook's Corner, a well-known local restaurant. Michael says, "This is definitely a meal to save for special occasions, though see the note about reduced fat versions. You have to make this at least once. If you honestly like Uglesich's version better, I'll buy you lunch there next time you're in town." He lives in New Orleans now, so he knows he's verging on BLASPHEMY by saying that it's better than Uglesich's ... but this dish is pretty damned good in any case. It's got shrimp, and bacon, and cheese ... how can you go wrong?
For the shrimp: In large skillet over low heat, heat oil; add bacon; cook 4-5 min, stirring occasionally until bacon begins to crisp. Meanwhile, place flour in 1-gallon plastic bag. Add shrimp, a few at a time; shake well to coat. Increase heat under skillet to medium; add shrimp; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just pink and tender. Stir in scallions, lemon juice, hot red pepper sauce, salt and pepper; cook 1 minute longer, stirring until scallions are heated through and flavors are blended. Serve accompanied by Cheese Grits. Makes 4 servings.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 slices of bacon, about 4 ounces, diced
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 pound medium-size fresh shrimp, peeled
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 medium size scallions, cut into 1/2" diagonal slices, about 2/3 cup
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cheese Grits (recipe below)
For the Cheese Grits: Cook 1 cup quick (not instant) grits according to package directions, using 4 cups of water. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmasean cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper and pinch of ground red cayenne pepper to blend well. Sprinkle with an additional 1/4 cup grated Cheddar to serve.
Nutrition information: You don't wanna know.
Notes from Michael: When making this, I skip the vegetable oil, since the bacon gives more then enough liquid and bacon fat tastes better then vegetable oil. If we are making this for company, I normally cook the bacon a bit in advance, let it drain on paper towels, and discard most of the bacon fat. There is still more then enough fat to flavor the dish. From that point on cooking time is less than 10 minutes.
We also normally cut the amount of cheese almost in half when making the grits. We have also made a lighter version with bacon bits and reduced-fat cheese that was still very, very tasty.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)