I was born in Savannah, and a bowl of shrimp and grits was placed in front of me very early in life. Between the city of my birth and Charleston there are many, many restaurants serving good examples of this staple dish. I have had many of them, and, to this day, whenever I see shrimp and grits on a menu my first impulse is to order. I’ve been disappointed many times, unfortunately, for two simple reasons: poorly cooked, inferior shrimp, and unpalatable grits. The two words in the dish’s name must be done well, no? The shrimp is best when it is fresh, not previously frozen, and it should not be overcooked, because doing so renders it tough and rigid. And the grits are best when they are of the stoneground variety. I prefer Anson Mills, but there are other brands out there. They should be cooked slowly, with care, and cream (my preference) and butter. Plus salt, plenty of salt. Instant grits do not belong on a table.
This past week I had a bowl of shrimp and grits for lunch at Brennan’s, and I was very satisfied. The two main ingredients were done well, and the addition of marinated sweet peppers, parsnip chips, toasted garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes was a pleasant touch. The grits were moist, and seasoned well, and the shrimp were to the point. It is a bowl worthy of the Low Country.
Want to read more about shrimp and grits? Get Nathalie Dupree’s Shrimp & Grits Cookbook. It will tell you all you need to know.