This fun, fresh take on shrimp and grits has incredible texture thanks to crunchy panko breadcrumbs and cheese-y, gooey grits, while the smoky, meaty tomato sauce adds more complexity to each bite. It's a great way to use up leftover grits. 


Credit: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Dale / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe Summary

1 hr 30 mins
2 hrs 45 mins


Smoked Tomato Sauce
Shrimp-And-Grits Balls
Additional Ingredients


Prepare the Smoked Tomato Sauce:
  • Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's instructions, bringing internal temperature to 250°F to 275°F; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Place tomatoes in a medium-size stainless-steel skillet. Smoke tomatoes, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 250°F and 275°F, until tomatoes are perfumed with smoky flavor, about 30 minutes.

  • Transfer smoked tomatoes, along with any juices, to a blender. Process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Pour into a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.                

  • While tomato sauce simmers, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add andouille; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Transfer tomato sauce and browned andouille, along with any drippings in skillet, to a blender. Process until smooth, about 25 seconds. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium saucepan. Using a rubber spatula, push tomato mixture through strainer into saucepan; discard solids. Stir salt into strained tomato puree. Cover until ready to serve.

Prepare the Shrimp-And-Grits Balls:
  • Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high. Add salt. Gradually whisk in grits until smooth and no lumps remain. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter, and whisk constantly until melted, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking occasionally, until grits are thickened and tender to the bite, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Spread grits on a 9- x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, toss together shrimp and Creole seasoning in a medium bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout and pink, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked shrimp to a work surface; let cool 5 minutes. Coarsely chop shrimp, and set aside. Wipe skillet clean.                                                                     

  • Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to cleaned skillet; heat over medium. Add jalapeños and garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Scrape mixture into a small bowl.

  • Transfer grits to a large bowl, and break apart into small clumps. Add jalapeño mixture, mild cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, parsley, dill, basil, and tarragon; stir until thoroughly blended. Add chopped shrimp, and stir until combined.

  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1-ounce (2-tablespoon) scoop, scoop 1 portion shrimp mixture into your hands, and roll into a ball (you'll have 24 balls total). Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining shrimp mixture. Chill, uncovered, until cold and firm, about 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a medium-size Dutch oven; heat over medium until oil reaches 350°F. Whisk together egg, milk, and buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Place panko and flour in 2 separate shallow bowls.

  • Working with 1 Shrimp-And-Grits Ball at a time, dredge balls in flour, and shake off excess. Roll ball in egg mixture; let excess drip off. Roll in panko to coat, pressing to adhere. Return to baking sheet.

  • Working in 4 batches, fry Shrimp-And-Grits Balls, turning occasionally using a slotted spoon or spider, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.        

  • Uncover Smoked Tomato Sauce in pan, and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until hot, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle 1/4 cup Smoked Tomato Sauce into each of 6 shallow bowls. Top each with 4 Shrimp-And-Grits Balls. Garnish with Pecorino Romano and baby greens.