A fried egg on top of these Shrimp and Grits transforms this classic Southern recipe into a brunch dish you don’t see everyday.
- ⅓ cup smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
- 2 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more for grits and seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon granulated onion
- 4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 30 large shrimp (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 stalk celery (quartered)
- 1 carrot (quartered)
- ½ onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 6 clove garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
- 1 big sprig fresh thyme
- 8 cup water (divided)
- 1 cup yellow grits (not instant)
- 5–6 tablespoon unsalted butter (divided)
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 4 thick cut bacon strips (sliced crosswise into ½‑inch strips)
- 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
- 2 tablespoon minced jalapeno (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (canned and drained or fresh)
- 2 tablespoon fresh, minced chives
- 6 large eggs (optional)
- sliced sweet pepper (as garnish)
Make the Creole seasoning mix: In a medium bowl combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme, and granulated garlic. Stir to combine. This is much more seasoning than you need for this recipe, store the extra in an airtight container for up to three months.
Make the shrimp stock: Rinse, dry and peel the shrimp, pinching and pulling gently on the tail section to remove the peel without breaking off the tail meat if possible. Place the shells into a medium sauce pan. Add celery, carrots, onion, smashed garlic and thyme. Pour in 4 cups water, and simmer for one hour over low heat, skimming the muck off the top as needed.
Strain, cool and reserve the stock. You should have a generous 2 cups, if not add a little water or clam juice. The stock may be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.
Make the grits: Bring 4 cups water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan; season generously with salt. Gradually whisk in grits, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until grits begin to thicken; about 20 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and mascarpone; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Make the shrimp: Toss the peeled shrimp in a medium bowl with about 1 tablespoon prepared Creole mix. The shrimp should be uniformly seasoned but not heavily coated.
Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; sauté until fat begins to render, about 3 minutes. Add minced jalapeno, minced garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir until butter melts. Raise the temperature to medium-high, then cook until the bacon begins to brown; about 2 more minutes. Add shrimp and sauté until they begin to brown and turn pink, but are not cooked all the way through. You want to color the shrimp not steam them, so work in batches for best results. Carefully remove the shrimp to a platter as they cook, leaving mostly everything else in the pan. Add the shrimp stock and 2 tablespoons butter. Lower the heat to medium and reduce, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to coat a spoon; about 6 to 8 minutes.
Return the shrimp as well as any bits and juices that accumulate on the platter to the skillet and simmer until shrimp is cooked through, no more than 1 to 2 minutes. Finish the dish by stirring in lemon juice, diced tomatoes and chopped chives.
Make the fried eggs (optional): Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet; swirl to melt and cover bottom of pan. Crack eggs into pan and cook until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.
To serve: Place 4 generous tablespoons of grits in the middle of each of 6 shallow bowls. Arrange 5 shrimp on top of each. Spoon over some of the sauce. Top with fried eggs (if using). Garnish with sliced sweet pepper and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.