Thursday, May 2, 2013

Topped Chef's Shrimp and Grits

LUCY BURDETTETopped Chef (coming next week!) involves a reality TV cooking contest in Key West. The prize is a big deal--a shot at starring in a cooking show. (Hayley Snow is a reluctant judge.) One of the contestants, Randy Thompson, is a proponent of homey Southern cooking. When the three contestants have to present their "signature" seafood dishes, Randy makes shrimp and grits. So I knew I had to make them for you!

Most southern cooks worth their collards have a recipe for shrimp and grits. The difference comes in several ways. First, the grits can be cooked in water, chicken broth, or milk, and then when cooked, cheese and or butter are mixed in. Then the shrimp are cooked with, all or some of these ingredients: bacon, tasso ham, onions, scallions, peppers, garlic, lemon, parsley, worcestershire sauce, more butter. 

I used Bob's Red Mill corn grits and even my non-grits-loving husband loved them. I also cut back on cheese and butter so these were not as intensely rich as I've had in restaurants.



5-7 shrimp per person, depending on size, peeled and deveined (Randy uses Key West pinks and so did I)
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
3-4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 lemon
1 cup cornmeal grits
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
Bring three cups of water and broth to a boil, and slowly add the grits. Reduce to low heat and simmer about 1/2 hour, whisking often to keep lumps from forming, and so it doesn't stick to the pan. (Take care because the grits will "pop" and can burn.) Mix in the cheese and 2 tablespoons butter, and set aside. 

While the grits are cooking (or even earlier,) fry the chopped bacon until crisp. Set this aside and empty most of the grease from the pan. 

Add the scallions and the pepper and cook several minutes, adding a little olive oil if needed. Scrape this out and set aside. Saute the shrimp in the same pan with a little olive oil or butter until barely pink (about 3 minutes.)  Squeeze in half the lemon and add a tablespoon butter. Scrape the vegetables back into the pan and heat it all together.

Arrange the shrimp over the grits, and garnish with parsley and bacon.Serve with green salad, or steamed spinach or asparagus. And biscuits if you need them:). This recipe served three people nicely--if you have 5 or 6 shrimp per person and a side vegetable, I think you could serve 4.


Here's Randy Thompson making his signature shrimp and grits in TOPPED CHEF which is finally, finally OUT NEXT WEEK (Oops, did I already say that?):

"He measured cornmeal into a pan of simmering chicken broth, shucked the shells off a pile of pink shrimp, and grated a mound of white cheddar cheese, all while chattering amiably about cooking and entertaining and interspersing his comments with snatches of song. And most appealing of all, half a pound of bacon spat in his frying pan, perfuming the air. The audience laughed and cheered at his antics: I couldn’t imagine that the other two would be able to match this performance.

“Every Southern chef worth his or her salt has a variation on the classic recipe for shrimp and grits,” said Randy. “And they will argue about whether the necessary secret ingredient is the bacon, the tasso ham, the green peppers, the heavy cream versus the cheese. But Key West has a supersecret weapon.” He winked and grinned. “We are so lucky on this island to have access to gorgeous local shrimp—Key West pinks, they’re called, for those of you who aren’t local.”

Hope you enjoy the dinner! We sure did. 

And don't forget to order your copy of TOPPED CHEF

And please "like" me on Facebook.

And follow me on Twitter.  


  1. Delicious post, Lucy/Roberta. I grew up on polenta, so it's no surprise I loves me some shrimp and grits. I'm no expert on this classic, so I appreciate your post, and I could dive into that photo. Thanks for the recipe and we're excited for your TOPPED CHEF release. The countdown is on!

    ~ Cleo

  2. Oh, yum, oh, lovely! I adore shrimp and the grits look fabulous. Can't wait for your new release. Love this series.


    Daryl / Avery

  3. Cheesey grits AND shrimp? That sounds delicious.

  4. Thanks you all! We had a wonderful event at Salt and Pepper today but missed you Cleo!