Serves a Crowd

Shrimp and Grits Style Risotto

March 20, 2010
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I went to Charleston a few years ago with my cousin Toni, to write a piece about the restaurants down there. At almost every restaurant we visited, it seemed, Toni ordered the Shrimp and Grits and declared them the best Shrimp and Grits she'd ever had. And we did have some really great versions. Rather than gloppy and too rich and downright soul-annihilating, like a lot of Yankee takes on the dish I've had, these were comforting with distinctive personalities from restaurant to restaurant.I decided to try to capture those flavors in a risotto. And my soul is still intact. —EmilyNunn

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: ENunn is a writer living in Charleston and working on her book, The Comfort Food Diaries.
WHAT: All of the porky, shrimp-y, hot sauced goodness of the South -- in risotto form.
HOW: Marinate your shrimp, then cook them in a tomato-wine mixture. Take the shrimp out, and add stock, then cook your risotto with that tomato-wine-stock. Add your shrimp and bacon at the end. Toast yourself.
WHY WE LOVE IT: When drbabs tested this recipe, she called it "restaurant quality" -- and we have to agree. ENunn's dish has an intensity and balance that's hard to match at home; we were blown away by the amount of flavor in every single component. Don't let the amount of prep scare you away -- this is 100% worth it. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 16 large shrimp, about 3/4 pound, peeled and deveined
  • 2 lemons, juiced, several slices of peel reserved
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomato, about 3 medium
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup long grain arborio superfino
  • Dash or more of tabasco, more at table
  • 4 scallions, sliced with some green tops
  1. Place shrimp in a bowl with lemon juice, a few strips of lemon peel, thyme, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium low heat to render fat; remove with a slotted spoon once bacon has cooked to golden but not crisped and drain on paper towel lined plate.
  3. Add remaining olive oil to bacon fat in pan; cook garlic and parsley together until very fragrant. Add tomatoes to pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat. Add shrimp (with its marinade) and cook one minute per side. Add wine, bring to a simmer, removing shrimp after 1 minute. Set aside in a covered bowl. Add fish stock to remaining liquid and keep at a low simmer.
  4. In a dutch oven, heat butter and saute onion until golden over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook until golden. Stir in rice and cook until translucent.
  5. Over a period of 20 minutes, add stock mixture 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed with each addition. When all but a half a cup or so of liquid remains to be added and the rice is al dente stir in bacon and shrimp, and a few dashes of tabasco. Finish the dish with the warm half and half and a squeeze of lemon. Put the lid on the dutch oven and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes before serving topped with scallions and more Tabasco at table if desired.
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25 Reviews

mommarobin February 20, 2023
The recipe calls for sautéing the onion in butter but butter is not on the ingredient list nor does it say how much butter.
Took longer than listed to become al dente but once there the flavor was phenomenal!
Russet February 10, 2022
Decided to make this for guests as I love risotto in every form. As usual I improvised a bit adding chicken broth instead of fish broth, dried thyme instead of fresh, only used one lemon, added more garlic. Found the broth mix worked well with the risotto. Guests loved it. Just the right amount of heat. And the bacon really added so much depth to the dish.
cstanko December 24, 2021
Has potential, but proportions are off or vague. “The juice of 2 lemons” can vary greatly; mine were very juicy and hence, the risotto was lemony without adding any more to finish. Also, the liquid to rice ratio was off; with the amount of liquid I had, I could have used at least 1.5 c of rice.
And, and someone stated, 1/2 hour in lemon juice pretty much cooks your shrimp already. I’ll make it again with several significant tweaks.
NXL December 31, 2020
The citrus really overcooked the shrimp and I did not have it in the pan for the final 5 minute resting time. The rice had great flavor, though.
kschurms May 14, 2018
Made this for mother's day and it was a huge hit! One thing I would do differently next time is use pancetta instead of thick cut bacon, as I felt that the bacon didn't crisp up enough and it was texturally off. I also omitted the half and half because it would have been too rich. That said, the shrimp was super flavorful from the poaching and the flavor of the stock/wine/tomato/herb combo was amazing!
Denise G. October 5, 2016
Made this tonight and it came out great! Instead of bacon, I used butter and lots of salt, and then I used a smoked cheddar cheese instead of the half and half to add some smokiness and depth lost from omitting the bacon. It was great!
sevenfaces July 24, 2014
This was just great. Didn't have fish stock so simmered the prawn heads and shells in 2 cups of water while they marinated and everything else came together - gave the whole dish a marvellous prawn-y flavour! I served it with a tomato/avocado salsa and patted myself on the back for pulling it all off on a weeknight. Delicious.
Francescap May 30, 2014
I made this recipe and thought it was great. The recipe didn't list the amount of butter to sauté rice and mushrooms in so I improvised. A few adjustments I would make the next time, I would take out the lemon rinds and thyme sprigs as MartyL did and decrease the amount of lemon juice. Other than that this was delicious.
Flirty F. May 27, 2014
Ohhhhh... How I do love shrimp in my risotto!
littlethingamajigs April 20, 2014
Made it tonight with some substitutions for lower cholesterol: chunks of tilapia instead of shrimp (treated it the same way as shrimp though, removing after a few mins and only putting it back in the end, so it would stay in chunks rather than crumble), skim milk instead of half and half, olive oil instead of butter, and rendered duck fat instead of bacon and bacon juices. Worked out really well! Thanks for the inspiration.
Pam April 12, 2014
Made this tonight. Incredible! Just perfect. Thanks for the recipe!
Oui, C. March 17, 2014
I've been craving shrimp and grits lately, Emily, but I am SO making this instead. Congrats on the Wildcard win!
fiveandspice March 10, 2014
I love this idea! Yum!!!
Midge March 10, 2014
Yay Emily! Can't wait for shrimp season to try this.
gingerroot March 10, 2014
This looks fabulous! I missed this the first time around - so glad it has reemerged as a Wildcard. Congratulations!
EmilyNunn March 10, 2014
Thanks Gingerroot! I am so thrilled. What a lovely surprise!
MartyL March 1, 2012
I made this the other night and it's fantastic! I used the shrimp shells to make the stock but I used vegetable stock to bring it up to 2 cups rather than chicken stock. BTW the recipe doesn't say what to do with the last 1/2 cup of stock but I added it with the bacon and shrimp and I stirred it for a minute before I let it rest. The recipe also doesn't say to remove the thyme sprigs and lemon peel but I did that while I was adding the stock to the rice.
coffeefoodwrite April 1, 2010
This looks absolutely delicious - drbabs -- enjoyed your review...
drbabs April 1, 2010
Thanks CFWG! I had a grand time making it and writing about it!
drbabs March 25, 2010
I'm a New Orleans native, and am looking forward to testing this recipe this weekend.
EmilyNunn March 27, 2010
Excellent! You may notice salt is missing--the bacon adds a lot, and I always undersalt, so you might think it needs more! I hope you have fun with it.
smithbites March 25, 2010
I literally just sucked all the air out of this room!!! Shrimp & Grits and Charleston - all in the same sentence!!! We just returned from our first visit there and I've fallen hard for the place. Had Shrimp & Grits for the first time at 82 Queen Restaurant, BBQ style - just delish! I will be making this recipe pronto!
EmilyNunn March 27, 2010
Please let me know what you think, Smithbites. Either way, you should get more S and G into your life. I have another recipe I'll post later--with actual grits.
EmilyNunn March 21, 2010
Dynamo, you have to go to Hominy Grill! Their S and G recipe is so simple and easy, pared down to a simple saute of the basics. Robert Stehling, the great chef there, uses no cream or cheese or extraneous ingredients. I couldn't resist the cream, and I think this recipe would be fine without it and a bit more garlic. And the Peninsula Grill is another favorite. I don't know High Cotton.