Serves a Crowd

Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Shrimp Grits

April 20, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Like many of the recipes in The Gift of Southern Cooking, this recipe is a little bit Scott Peacock and a little bit Edna Lewis. Stirred through the creamy grits, the shrimp paste goes further than a few pretty prawns piled on top ever could, pervading every spoonful with the pure essence of shrimp at its best and most seductive. The shrimp paste also makes a lovely spread for crackers and all-purpose flavor enhancer (just imagine stirring it into risotto, saucing fish, or filling tea sandwiches with it). —Genius Recipes

  • Serves 6
  • For the shrimp paste
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (Scott Peacock likes small, sweet ones like gulf shrimp, but get whatever is freshest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • For the shrimp grits
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk, or more
  • 1 cup stone-ground or regular grits
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
In This Recipe
  1. For the shrimp paste
  2. Heat 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet until it is hot and foaming. Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper, and cook over high heat, stirring often, for 4-7 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.
  3. Remove the skillet from the stove and use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the cooked shrimp to the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment.
  4. Return the skillet to the stove, and add the sherry, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Cook over high heat until the liquid in the skillet is reduced to approximately 3 tablespoons and is quite syrupy. Immediately add this to the shrimp in the food processor, and process until the shrimp are thoroughly pureed.
  5. With the motor running, add the remaining butter in pieces and process until thoroughly blended. Turn the food processor off and carefully taste the paste for seasoning, adding more salt, black pepper, sherry, lemon juice, or cayenne pepper as needed. Transfer the shrimp paste to a ceramic crock and allow to cool completely.
  6. If not using right away, cover the shrimp paste and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Refrigerated shrimp paste should be allowed to return to room temperature before serving. If it is still too dry to spread, you may work in some softened butter and salt to taste until it is spreadable.
  1. For the shrimp grits
  2. Heat water and milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until just simmering.
  3. While the milk and water are heating, put the grits in a large mixing bowl and cover with cool water. (If you are using regular grits, skip this step.) Stir the grits assertively so that the chaff floats to the top. Carefully skim the surface of the grits to remove the chaff. Drain the grits through a fine strainer, and stir them into the simmering water and milk. Cook, stirring often, until the grits are tender to the bite and have thickened to the consistency of thick oatmeal. Regular grits are done in about 20 minutes, but stone-ground grits require an hour or a little more to cook, and you will have to add additional milk and water as needed. As the grits thicken, stir them more often to keep them from sticking and scorching.
  4. Stir in the cream and butter and season generously with salt to taste. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, until time to serve. If the grits become too thick as they cool, reheat them, stirring in a little extra water or milk to thin.
  5. Top hot grits with a generous dollop of Shrimp Paste. Scott Peacock likes to stir it in thoroughly, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes for the flavors to get to know each other. For every cup of grits, stir in about 1/4 cup or more Shrimp Paste, and sprinkle some chopped fresh chives on top, if you like them. Serve as an appetizer, a supper dish with buttered toast, or a savory side dish.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • cathy
  • Annie stader
    Annie stader
  • Karin Ward
    Karin Ward
  • Jim Garrett
    Jim Garrett
  • walkie74
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

19 Reviews

cathy February 9, 2021
Amazing and flexible to use the rest of the week. On toast! on pasta! on crackers!
indykath December 28, 2018
What a wonderfully comforting food. Perfect as it is!
beejay45 July 12, 2017
If it wouldn't gild the lily to much, I'd spread this in a sheet pan and let it firm up, cut it into it into small squares and serve spoonfuls of shrimp etouffe over it for a deep South tapa. ;)))
Annie S. November 26, 2015
I have made this several times and love it. It is something I find myself craving. There is always leftover shrimp paste which is dynamite on Belgian endive ( or just good crackers).
tony A. June 4, 2015
What kind of sherry should be used?
Karin W. April 9, 2014
Mr. Garrett it sounds as if you have a few wonderful classic Southern recipes of your own that you might like to share. We are open to what you might like to share with everyone here. Cheers.
Jim G. April 8, 2014
I'm from South Carolina and have spent my life on the SC coast in every town and fishing village from Little River to Hilton Head. I am also well versed in Gullah and gheechie culture and cooking. I have never heard of, seen, or tasted shrimp paste. I think Mr. Peacock misunderstood Ms. Lewis instructions and took liberty with a tried and true southern tradition. Seems to me he just took all of the ingredients, tossed it all together in the new food processor he just bought and proceeded to screw up a southern classic. What he was probably shooting for was a classic shrimp salad, chopped fine and spread on crusty bread or crackers.
beejay45 July 12, 2017
Seriously??? Seems you need to learn more about the decades-long place Edna Lewis has held in Souther cuisine AND the fact that she and Scott collaborated on these books. He wasn't an ignorant sous chef who somehow got his misconception included in the printed book. If you'll notice, the name of the recipe is "Shrimp Grits" not "Shrimp and Grits." Different things.
Melinda March 4, 2020
Also, Edna Lewis’s cooking roots were in Freetown, Virginia — not the South Carolina coast.
Karin W. December 2, 2013
Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock are the best combination for recipes. You should see their recipe for macaroni and cheese. It is absolutely divine. Their recipes are very flavorful!
walkie74 July 27, 2013
I made the paste, but haven't tried making it with bacon. And we just ran out of butter... Gee, I guess I'll just have to fry up some bacon, chop it up and stir some of the fat into the paste... *dramatic sigh* my life is sooo difficult. ;)
giuia.grady June 26, 2012
I just made this and served it with some whole shrimp cooked in the pan with a bit of butter and the leftover juices from the shrimp paste recipe (just for something to chew on). This is absolutely AMAZING!!!
Big P. May 10, 2012
This is delicious, but I'm not quite convinced of the genius. IMHO, other recipes for sauteed shrimp over grits, especially those featuring bacon, are strong competitors.
hitpas April 24, 2012
I've made Shrimp and Grits for years - the other way. I've also owned The Gift of Southern Cooking since it was published. Had just sort of ignored that little suggestion on the grits page about stirring in shrimp paste. Suppose I've been prejudiced since childhood about the notion of shrimp PASTE. Well, thank you for removing the scales from my eyes. This is insanely delicious.
Louisa April 21, 2012
The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of my favorite cookbooks. I love their trembling tomato aspic, the fried chicken, angel biscuits and their version of the Lane Cake.
AnnieHynes April 20, 2012
This is Amazing! Just made!
Chubknee May 1, 2012
Hey chic, was just scrolling through comments before I log off and noticed you here. Funny. I knew that you also use Food52, but seeing your comment is a pleasant surprise. I just made these and am (not so) patiently waiting for Gary to get home to try them.
Chubknee May 1, 2012
Oops, forgot my user name is odd. This is Barbra.
jaz1311 April 20, 2012
My daughter makes this w/ bacon vinaigrette and it is awesome.