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Crooks Corner Shrimp & Grits
Once the breakfast for humble fishermen, shrimp and grits has become a signature Southern dish and high cuisine. - photo by T. Ortega Gaines

Yield: 4 servings.

4 ½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup grits, preferably stone-ground

¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Butter, Tabasco and white pepper to taste

1 pound fresh shrimp

6 slices bacon

Peanut oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup finely sliced green onions

1 large clove garlic, peeled

4 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

Grits: Bring salted water to strong boil in a saucepan. Slowly sift the grits through one hand into the water while stirring with a whisk in the other hand. When all the grits have been added, continue stirring and reduce heat to low until only an occasional bubble breaks the surface.

Continue cooking for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Beat in a good quantity of butter, Tabasco and white pepper, then stir in the cheese. Hold in a warm place or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.

Peel shrimp, rinse and pat dry. Dice bacon and saute lightly in a skillet, until edges are browned but bacon isn’t crisp. Add enough peanut oil to the skillet to make a layer about 1/8-inch deep. When hot, add shrimp in an even layer.

Turn shrimp as they start to color, add the mushrooms and saute about 4 minutes. Turn occasionally and add the green onions. Add the garlic through a press and stir around. Season with lemon juice, a dash or two of Tabasco, parsley and salt and pepper.

Divide grits among four plates. Spoon the shrimp over the grits and serve immediately.

From "Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking" (UNC Press, 1989 edition). Chef Bill Smith Jr. of Crook’s Corner says they still make it according to Neal’s original recipe, but they skip nutmeg he included in the book. (Supposedly, Neal didn’t use it either.)


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