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Origin and Particulars of shrimp and grits?


ChefSwartz
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I was wondering if anyone knows the (who/where)origination of shrimp and grits? I would assume somewhere near the beach, maybe charleston,SC. not sure but curious for personal reasons.

The complexity of flavor is a token of durable appreciation. Each Time you taste it, each time it's a different story, but each time it's not so different." Paul Verlaine

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I was wondering if anyone knows the (who/where)origination of shrimp and grits? I would assume somewhere near the beach, maybe charleston,SC. not sure but curious for personal reasons.

Unlikely that it was Charleston unless the dish has been renamed. Charlestonians would have called it Shrimp and Hominy. Bill Neal points out that from Charleston to Beaufort, one needs to read "grits" for "hominy" in the old cookbooks.

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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Interesting... I immediately thought Charleston, but maybe that's just because my recipe originated there. I have had it there in a casserole style - baked in a gratin dish all mooshed together and fluffy from the addition of egg, but my Charleston recipe serves the shrimp mixture over regular stone-ground grits.

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I've just read it ascribed generically to the 'low country', basically coastal Georgia and S.Carolina.

The simplest incarnations were just shrimp sauteed in butter, salt and peppered and serve with plain grits for breakfast. In his book, "Classical Southern Cooking", Damon Lee Fowler just calls them 'breakfast shrimp".

Other versions are gussied up some-like Bill Neal's version, bacon, mushrooms, green onion and a little hot sauce added and then served on cheese grits.

He also has another excellent variation where the shrimp are shallow fried with an egg white batter coating and then served over plain grits with deeply caramelized onions.

All good!

Would be interested if anyone has any other variations to share...

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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That sounds about right...I used to work at a southern restaurant here in ATL that featured classic southern food. We had a dish that was shrimp and scallops over stone ground grits...the chef was from Baltimore, but one of the owners hailed from Charleston. Enjoy your recipe...it's a great dish.

:smile:

"have a sense of humor about things...you'll need it" A. Bourdain

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I was wondering if anyone knows the (who/where)origination of shrimp and grits? I would assume somewhere near the beach, maybe charleston,SC. not sure but curious for personal reasons.

Hello, you-all:

As a true Charlestonian, I'm happy to claim that shrimp & hominy (hwwilson was right about us calling it "hominy") originated there. If it didn't, it *should* have. THere are a number of prettified S&H recipes (the best one IMHO can be found at the Web site for the Hominy Grill, a fantastic Charleston restaurant (http://www.hominygrill.com/ - look under "recipes").

My S&H memories are much more personal: My father was a professor at the Medical University there, but he was an avid outdoorsman. Somewhere he learned how to knit shrimp nets - 12-foot circular nets with a weighted periphery that were thrown from the bow of a small rowboat (I got to row) in a kind of vast Frisbee-like motion. We used to go shrimping in the small tidal creeks around Charleston, and rarely did we come back with less than a bushel basket full of tiny, little-finger-sized creek shrimp. We would peel them raw (much easier than peeling cooked shrimp) and either freeze them, or just boil & eat them. Father didn't cook much, but he had a magical way with shrimp & hominy. I suspect that he used equal parts of shrimp, hominy & butter.

Alas, the shrimp have long since chosen other places to breed, so I rely on those South American tame shrimp now. But they still make a breakfast fit for kings!

Damn, I'm hungry!

Regards,

Bartow

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I'm not sure why there is no acknowledged difference. I can assure I have had hominy and i have had grits and they are different. I have heard them called hominy grits but they are not gritty by any means.the stone ground version is what i have grown accustomed to. Anson mills has some great organic stone ground grits by the way.

The chef at hominy grill is a student of bill neal an ben barker i hardly think he deserves any credit for origination. especially after having worked for barker, myself.

I think it will come downed to no one person in particular but something that evolved from someones grandma or grandpa.

The complexity of flavor is a token of durable appreciation. Each Time you taste it, each time it's a different story, but each time it's not so different." Paul Verlaine

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I'm not sure why there is no acknowledged difference. I can assure I have had hominy and i have had grits and they are different. I have heard them called hominy grits but they are not gritty by any means.the stone ground version is what i have grown accustomed to. Anson mills has some great organic stone ground grits by the way.

The chef at hominy grill is a student of bill neal an ben barker i hardly think he deserves any credit for origination. especially after having worked for barker, myself.

I think it will come downed to no one person in particular but something that evolved from someones grandma or grandpa.

If I understand what you're saying properly, I believe that what the 'rest of the South' calls grits, is just called "hominy" instead in the particular area around Charleston, or as noted above, from Beaufort to Charleston. Not sure what the people in that area call "hominy" (as known in the rest of the south).

Interesting to know that the Hominy Grill chef worked w/Barker and Neal and that you worked with Barker as well. I looked at the Hominy Grill recipe and it is indeed very close to Neal's recipe published in the late 80's. (Not to speak for Bartow, but it didn't seem like he was designating the Hominy Grill chef as the originator, just rather that it was a good recipe in his opinion).

It would be interesting to ask Neal if he were still around how much of 'his' recipe was 'his' so to speak. He read so many old sources for recipes, I wonder how much he 'changed' or added to the recipe from the ones he had seen. Perhaps this is a silly question to ask a chef.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I think one would be hard pressed to assign shrimp and grits to a single person. It would be like trying to assign fried chicken to a single person.

Another really excellent combination with grits is grillades and grits (aka grits and grillades).

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Shrimp and grits is an old favorite in Louisiana and all across the Gulf Coast. I had never tried it until a visit to Metairie, and now it's served in martini glasses at every Southern wedding.

My first introduction to grits as anything besides breakfast was in a catfish/seafood place in Pensacola. A young family at the next table all went up to the several steam tables/buffets laden with oysters and mussels and all manner of fried and steamed seafood, vegetables and desserts, and all came back with plates containing one catfish, fried whole, and a generous puddle of some white sauce or gravy. My first thought was tartar sauce, but it was solid white, so I asked one of them what it was. They all looked at me as if I had descended from Mars. "It's GRITS. What did you think it was? You know, fish and grits."

And I imagine it has been a normal combination for many years, especially for the coast and river-dwellers, whose plentiful supply of fish and shrimp was right out their door or down the road, there for the catching. Many families subsisted on whatever they could catch or shoot or seine, and the foodstuffs they could raise on their own land. And fish or shrimp and grits were certainly a part of every coastal household's food supply---the seafood free for the taking and the grits ground from their own corn, or bought cheaply from a store.

So, what's to keep the next generation, and the next, from enjoying the plain country fare they learned to eat at Grandma's table. Even if it IS gussied up with exotic herbs and fancy serving dishes.

p.s. re: grillades and grits, above. Several years ago, I bought a little church cookbook from a neighboring town, and one of the committee members was a woman who probably could not have FOUND her own kitchen without a map. She had had a cook for all of her married life, and submitted some wonderful recipes. They printed one recipe exactly as she wrote it: Gree-yards and Grits.

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BIG Hominy & Little Hominy.

About sixteen years ago, intrigued by Neal's recipes, I asked older friends who grew up in the Carolinas - "did your family eat grits?"

The answer was "yes, but we called the dish, little hominy." "Big hominy" was also served frequently, according to my friends.

Growing up in Central Louisiana I ate lots of grits, little hominy. Now, I prefer big hominy, especially combined with okra and tomatoes. The taste is nutty and the texture adds a firm counterpoint to the other vegetables.

Big hominy is familar as pozole in Latin American markets.

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BIG Hominy  &  Little Hominy. 

...

Cool, thanks for that lafcadio; I've never heard or read of that before. (I really like 'big hominy' as well).

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Are there many variations on shrimp and grits? Most commonly I've had it where the shrimp is in a "gravy" and served on top of a plate of grits. But I've also had a version that was more like shrimp scampi, with the shrimp pan sauteed with butter and garlic and served along side the grits.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Re hominy and grits: They are different forms of the same thing.

Hominy is simply dried corn that has been processed by soaking in lye or slaked lime.

"Grits" originally meant any coarsely ground grain (wheat, oats, corn, rice, whatever). Technically, regular coarse cornmeal and semolina are both kinds of "grits."

Way back folks said "hominy grits" when they were talking about coarsely ground hominy. But there is no escaping the fact that hominy grits is the most common kind, and "grits" has come to largely mean the same as "hominy grits." A similar thing has happened with "polenta" which has some to be understood by most people as a cornmeal-based dish when it can in fact be made with any kind of coarse grain.

"Shrimp and hominy" is probably a more accurate description than "shrimp and grits" because one could serve a dish of shrimp and grits made with regular corn (aka polenta) and it would still be "shrimp and grits." "Shrimp and hominy" on the other hand, specifies corn that has been treated with lye or slaked lime.

--

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Are there many variations on shrimp and grits?  Most commonly I've had it where the shrimp is in a "gravy" and served on top of a plate of grits.  But I've also had a version that was more like shrimp scampi, with the shrimp pan sauteed with butter and garlic and served along side the grits.

Dozens - maybe hundreds. The latest I've had is where the grits are fried in squares like polenta. Robyn

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p.s.  re: grillades and grits, above.    Several years ago, I bought a little church cookbook from a neighboring town, and one of the committee members was a woman who probably could not have FOUND her own kitchen without a map.  She had had a cook for all of her married life, and submitted some wonderful recipes.  They printed one recipe exactly as she wrote it:    Gree-yards and Grits.

Great story. I can hear her say it right now. :smile:

Can you pee in the ocean?

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  • 1 month later...
Are there many variations on shrimp and grits?  Most commonly I've had it where the shrimp is in a "gravy" and served on top of a plate of grits.  But I've also had a version that was more like shrimp scampi, with the shrimp pan sauteed with butter and garlic and served along side the grits.

There absolutely are, Holly. Since it's not really a codified recipe, it's one of those things people throw together however they like. I've had it (and made it) both of the ways you describe, but the best I ever had was when Todd Townsend here in Charlotte was the chef at Palatable Pleasures. He did cheese grits with Wisconsin sharp cheddar and stirred the shrimp into the grits, serving it almost like a loose risotto in a wide bowl. It was similar to the way John Currence does it at City Grocery in Oxford, except I don't recall that Currence's was cheese grits. In fact, Todd's version was about the only one I've seen that relied on cheese grits.

There's a new direction for the thread: Cheese grits, sublime or sacrilege? Discuss . . .

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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Cheese grits, sublime or sacrilege?

Ricky's Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West Fl often has a shrimp 'n grits dish on the breakfast menu that is truly sublime. The shrimp are large succulent fresh Gulf shrimp and the grits are blended into an almost creamy texture with Vermont white cheddar. As good as the pancakes are at Blue heaven (which is phenomenal for pancakres).... the shrimp 'n cheese grits is even better.

Lava Bistro in Charlotte (off Keynes Drive in the University Park area) has a really good shrimp 'n grits dish on their brunch menu. The shrimp are okay - not spectacular but the grits really shine. They make some sort of mixture with grits, Asiago cheese and other ingredients that help it to bind together and bake/fry/cook it as a large wedge shaped piece of grit cake. It's about the size of a slice of pie but stands nicely on edge - crispy on the outside and very light on the inside. I've tried several times to replicate it at home but with no success. The Asiago cheese is a good touch - it adds some cheese bite and pungency but without creating a heavier texture.

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My son, Chris, who lived several years in the Carolinas, devised his own version of Shrimp and Grits. He marinates the shrimp in lemon juice, garlic and cayenne. He cooks the grits in broth, then adds white cheddar and cream, then makes a "gravy" of bacon, prosciutto, andouille, bell pepper, onion, flour, white wine and cream. The shrimp are cooked in the gravy, poured over the grits in pasta bowls and topped with green onion.

Very rich and very delicious.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Emeril's web site has recipes for shrimp - grits - and shrimp and grits. I tried this recipe the other night and it was excellent. I don't feel one way or the other about cheese grits. Goes with some dishes - not others. It doesn't go with this shrimp preparation in my opinion.

This has been a great season for shrimp here in north Florida - at least from a consumer's point of view (lots of fresh 16-20 Mayport shrimp on sale at places like Publix for about $9/pound). Robyn

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