Breakfast Shrimp & Grits | Wine Enthusiast
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Shrimp & grits

Breakfast Shrimp & Grits

Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook (W. W. Norton, 2006), by Matt and Ted Lee

Natives of Charleston, South Carolina, brothers Matt and Ted Lee learned to cook in their childhood home at 83 East Bay Street, where this recipe gets its name. Tart tomatillos provide welcome acidity to this deeply flavorful dish.


1½ pounds extra-large, shell-on shrimp (26–30/pound), peeled and deveined, shells reserved
1½ cups stone-ground grits
1½ cups whole milk
1 pound tomatillos, husked (or green tomatoes)
4 ounces bacon, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped yellow onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons flour
Black pepper, to taste


Bring shrimp shells and 3 cups lightly salted water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1½ cups, about 20 minutes. Strain broth, and set aside. Add water or discard broth to ensure exact measure.

Combine grits, milk, 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until grits thicken, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook, stirring often, until grits are fluffy and creamy, about 30 minutes. Add water if grits become too stiff.

While grits cook, heat broiler and place tomatillos in roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Broil, turning occasionally, until blackened all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer to blender and purée. Pass purée through coarse strainer or food mill, and set aside.

Place bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon begins to brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeño, green pepper, onion and cayenne. Cook until vegetables soften, about 2 minutes.

Whisk 2 tablespoons shrimp broth with flour to create smooth paste. Add remaining broth to skillet, and reduce heat to medium. After 5 minutes, whisk in flour paste, followed by tomatillo purée. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens to gravy consistency, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook just until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Divide grits among 4 plates. Ladle shrimp and gravy on top. Serves 4.

Pair It

Jean-Luc and Paul Aegerter 2016 Vieilles Vignes (Chablis). “The lemony quality of a good Chablis, or any clean, steel-aged Chardonnay, pairs well with shrimp and the note of smoky bacon in the dish,” write the Lee brothers.

This one, in addition to its orange zest notes, conveys a sense of honey that gives it body to match with the rich meal. A touch of minerality complements the shrimp, while bright acidity cleanses the palate between bacon-y bites.

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