Mardi Gras Feast: Shrimp & Grits

Fat Tuesday is coming my people. It’s the last day of gluttony before the season of Lent begins. I’m wondering if you’re scratching your head about what all this means. In case this is new to you, Lent is meant to represent the 40 days of fasting in the desert that Jesus observed. It’s a time to get get clean, do things in moderation, and repent before God. While I don’t know anyone who actually fasts for 40 days, I do know many people who give up something for Lent. While the idea is to give up something that stands between you and God, giving up anything that you feel has power over you or prevents you from being the kind of person you believe you should be is a good choice.

Over the years I have given up chocolate or candy, but I usually give up swearing. I know God doesn’t want me to swear, I definitely don’t want my daughter to pick it up, and it’s just a generally trashy habit.

I digress. In celebration of Fat Tuesday, I thought I’d make a great Southern dish for you. I thought about Gumbo or Étouffée, but landed on Shrimp & Grits. Partially because it’s one of my FAV-O-RITE things to eat in the world, but also because it brings back fond memories of the first vacation I took with Mr. Bundt. We like to refer to it as my Shrimp & Grits Tour of the South. Here we are not eating shrimp and grits. Probably because I had them for breakfast and lunch that day.

There are many, many versions of Shrimp & Grits. This one is low-fat and comes together quickly so it’s great for a weeknight meal.

Not eating shrimp and grits

Shrimp & Grits

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 t hot sauce (or more if you like it hot)
  • 1lb peeled and devined shrimp
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1c chopped onion
  • 1/4c chopped bell pepper
  • 1 1/2t minced garlic
  • 1c chicken broth (homemade is great, Swanson all-natural, low-sodium is my off-the-shelf pick)
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c chopped scallions
  • 5c water
  • 1 1/2c grits
  • 1T butter
  • 1t salt
  • 3/4 c shredded cheddar

Gather your ingredients

Combine the lemon juice. hot sauce, and shrimp and set aside.

Get your sous chef to assist. That’s Winnie, my kitchen helper and floor cleaner.

Sous Chef Winnie

Add your chopped bacon to a large skillet. Fry over medium heat until crispy.

Fry the bacon

Add the onion, pepper, and garlic to the bacon and drippings and cook about five minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally. You could use frozen chopped onion and peppers if you like.

Onions, peppers, and garlic

Add 1/2 the scallions, tomato paste, the shrimp mixture, and the chicken broth. Cook about five minutes or until shrimp are cooked through, stir frequently.

Shrimp collage

Meanwhile, start the 5 cups of water for your grits. Bring to a rapid boil, then slowly add the grits, stirring constantly with a whisk to smooth out any lumps. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, covered, for about five minutes for quick-cooking grits, stirring occasionally. Add the cheese, butter, and salt.

Add the cheese, butter, and salt

Yummy!

Put a few spoonfuls of grits onto a plate or into a bowl and scoop some shrimp mixture with sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

Shrimp and grits

Quick and easy Shrimp & Grits! Is this the definitive recipe for Shrimp & Grits? No, but it’s pretty good, especially if you’re easing into the world of Southern cooking. Many call for tasso ham or andouille sausage, sometimes for a lot more tomatoes and all those things are wonderful. But for a quick meal, this is a great option.

How do you celebrate Mardi Gras? Do you give up anything for Lent? What is it and why? I’d love to hear about it! Also, you know this is a sweet food memory for me, more about food memory on Wednesday!

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