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." Slideshow:  More Southern Recipes 

Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits
Photo: © Brown W. Cannon III
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins


  • 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.

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