Shrimp with Cheddar-Parmesan Grits


Chef Michael Reed gives us a lesson on why it's worth it to take the time to peel and devein your own shrimp: He cooks the shrimp shells along with vegetables and herbs to create a deeply-flavorful stock, which he then uses as a sauce for these shrimp and grits. Pan-fried shrimp are spooned on top of a mound of cheesy grits, and topped with the rich shellfish stock as the finishing touch. Store extra stock in your freezer for your next batch of shrimp and grits, or add it to seafood soups, stews, and sauces for a boost of flavor.

Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
Photo: Hannah Khan
Active Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
4 to 5 servings


For the Shrimp Marinade

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved for stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

For the Shellfish Stock

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter

  • Reserved shrimp shells

  • ½ yellow onion, quartered

  • ½ leek, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

  • ½ stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • ½ carrot, halved lengthwise, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • ¼ large fennel bulb, halved

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 1 bay leaf

  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 6 tablespoon white wine

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

For the Cheesy Grits

  • 2 cups chicken stock or water

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup coarsely ground white grits

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 4 ounces aged white cheddar, grated 

  • 1 ounce grated Parmigiano Reggiano

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

For Cooking the Shrimp:

  • cup finely chopped shallots

  • cup thinly sliced celery, from 1 stalk

  • ¼ cup chopped pimento peppers from a jar

  • ¼ cup white wine

  • 1 ounce unsalted butter 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions

  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

  • ¼ cup celery leaves


Marinate the Shrimp:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix shrimp, 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and pinch of black pepper to coat shrimp. Cover and refrigerate while making stock and grits.

Make the Shellfish Stock:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add shrimp shells, onion, leek, celery, carrot, fennel, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and coriander. Cook without stirring, until lightly browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups of water, white wine, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for flavors to meld, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Strain through a sieve, pressing solids to extract as much liquid as possible.

Make the Grits:

  1. Bring chicken stock, milk and salt to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low and cover grits. Cook, whisking every 3 to 4 minutes to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps, making sure to get into corners of pot when whisking, until creamy and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt. Whisk in both cheeses. Remove from heat and let cheese melt into grits. Add butter and white pepper, if using. Whisk until butter is melted.

Cook the Shrimp:

  1. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high. Add shrimp to skillet in an even layer and let cook without stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the celery, shallots, and pimentos. Stir shrimp and return to an even layer, cooked side up. Add wine and butter and stir until butter is completely melted. Season with salt and pepper and stir in lemon juice.

  2. Divide grits evenly between 4 to 5 serving bowls; top with shrimp and vegetables, and a spoonful of the shellfish stock. Garnish with parsley, celery leaves, and scallions.

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