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Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits

By happy accident, Amber Huffman combined leftovers of two low-country staples--barbecue and cheddar cheese grits--for a quick Southern fusion meal. It became a Jess Jackson favorite. Here, Huffman tops her grits with grilled shrimp slicked with a tangy, bourbon-based barbecue sauce. "I seriously have received three marriage proposals over a bowl of my cheese grits," says Huffman. "I've accepted none so far."

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Cheese Grits, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup, bourbon, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, Tabasco, thyme and cayenne. Simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 40 minutes.
  2. Transfer the barbecue sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and reserve the rest.
  3. Preheat a grill pan. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and brush on both sides with the 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce. Grease the grill pan with the oil. Grill the shrimp over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve with cheese grits and the remaining barbecue sauce.

Make Ahead

The barbecue sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Suggested Pairing

Huffman's rich cheese grits need a wine with some substance, but one that isn't so tannic and massive that it will overwhelm the sweet shrimp—in other words, Pinot Noir.

Contributed By Photo © Brown W. Cannon III Published April 2008

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