Shrimp and grits often take multiple pans and a lot of fussing to get just right. But that rich flavor, cheesy grits and tender shrimp are just as easy to do with this simple one pan method–let your oven do the work!
If you’ve ever made grits you know those little devils will bubble up and shoot searing chunks of ground corn right in your eyeball.
Wiping away the tears, you battle to finish “simmering” this pot of popping nightmare for a full 30 minutes–praying you don’t go blind in the process.
We’ve been taught that to have good creamy grits you have to do it stovetop–and that good shrimp and grits means a long drawn out process.
But this recipe’s humble costal origins as a poor man’s food topped off with what protein they could find seaside has been elevated in to something much more complicated than ever intended. Let’s make it simple, weeknight ready and delicious.
What you’ll need for these shrimp and grits
Good quality wild-caught shrimp: I’m using extra large Argentenian Reds from Kroger here. Trader Joe’s also sells these. Make sure they say RAW on the package otherwise you’ll be eating rubber for dinner. Avoid buying farmed shrimp–they are loaded with antibiotics and additives.
Stone ground grits: White or yellow grits both work here but please make sure they are stone ground (see image below). The instant Quaker grits are not the right item. If you don’t live in the south, these may be hard to find but you can mail order them from the link below:
You’ll also need:
- Heavy cream
- Parmesan and cheddar cheese
- Hot sauce
- Red bell peppers
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Use a good skillet
To make this recipe truly one pan, make sure you have a large ovenproof skillet. I use cast iron a lot but in this case a stainless steel pan will also work. If you don’t have a pan that can go in the oven you can transfer your mixture to a baking dish to finish. I recommend this skillet if you are in the market for something easy to use and that’s affordable.
Don’t worry if your grits look like soup
I admit when I tested this I was sweating it–the grits looked super runny and soupy when it went in the oven. Like this:
When they bake they will still be thin enough to drip off a spoon but don’t sweat it. Once the full bake time is up, give the grits a taste. Are they firm? Or crunchy? If so, put the dish back and in and bake 5-7 more minutes. If they are soft but runny don’t worry–take them out and allow to cool 10 -15 minutes and they’ll be perfect.
What goes with shrimp and grits
I feel like you have a whole meal in one place with this dish, so I’d only serve a simple salad along side and call it good. If you are making this in winter, try a pear and gorgonzola salad or classic Caesar with no raw eggs.
Shrimp and Grits in the Oven
- 1 pound extra large shrimp wild caught if possible, raw, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
- pinch Cayenne pepper optional
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup yellow onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper finely chopped
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 cup stone ground grits yellow or white
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated (don't buy it pre-shredded)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grate your own–no powdered stuff
- Preheat the oven to 375
- In a bowl mix the uncooked thawed shrimp, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Set aside.
- In your large oven proof skillet with deep sides (12" or larger is best), add the butter over medium heat and melt. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook 5 to 7 minutes until softened.
- Add the water, cream and hot sauce to the vegetables and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Using a whisk, stir the water and cream mixture while slowly pouring in the grits. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. The mixture will still be quite thin and watery. That's okay.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses until melted. Sprinkle over the shrimp. They will sink into the mixture and that's fine. Transfer to the oven and bake until the shrimp cooks through and the grits are thickened–about 20 minutes total. **Check your grits at 20 minutes. Take a bite and if they are at all crunchy or firm, put the skillet back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes. The grits may still seem to be a bit runny, that's okay as long as they are cooked.
- Allow the dish to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving. The grits will thicken considerably as they cool.