Shrimp and grits has been a South Carolina specialty for generations. From flavorful shrimp gathered from the salt creeks of the Lowcountry to fresh corn harvested throughout the state, this perfect marriage has grown from a Lowcountry delicacy to one of South Carolina’s most iconic dishes.
Over the years, shrimp and grits has gained widespread popularity across the country. A large reason for that growth is the continual creativity and culinary excellence cooked up from several chefs in South Carolina. Chef Frank Lee is a shining example of this, helping shrimp and grits’ popularity soar nationwide.
Chef Lee has had a major influence on the culinary scene in South Carolina, starting in Charleston. Several of the chefs he has worked with and mentored over the years have gone on to run their own kitchens, from Charleston to Columbia to Greenville.
Chef Lee has also had a major influence on the menu at one of South Carolina’s most iconic restaurants, Slightly North of Broad, or “SNOB,” as the locals like to refer to it. Slightly North of Broad is part of Hall Management Group, which is an array of restaurants dedicated to sharing unique culinary experiences and Southern culture.
Chef Lee has always placed a large emphasis on local ingredients—from fresh produce to meat and seafood. This, paired with his French techniques learned while traveling and dining throughout Europe, has helped form Slightly North of Broad’s famous shrimp and grits dish, the most popular item on an already mouthwatering menu.
SHRIMP AND GRITS (recipe courtesy of Frank Lee)
3½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup stone-ground grits
¼ cup cream
Tools needed: 2-gallon pot, fine chinois
Yield: 4 cups
4 cups shrimp shells (2 pounds shrimp)
½ cup olive oil
1 cup onion, medium diced
1 cup carrot, medium diced
½ cup celery, medium diced
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 cup fresh tomato, medium diced
2 tablespoons garlic
4½ cups water
4 ounces country ham, julienned
4 ounces kielbasa sausage
2 tablespoons butter
20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Cajun spice
1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded and medium diced
1 cup green onion
2-3 ounces shrimp stock
MAKE THE GRITS
Bring water, salt and 1 tablespoon butter to a boil.
Stir in grits. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until grits are thick and creamy.
After about 40 minutes, remove from heat and finish by stirring in cream and the remaining butter. Keep warm until ready to serve.
MAKE THE STOCK
Toast the shrimp shells in olive oil in the 2-gallon pot until pink and fragrant.
Add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel seed and cook without burning until the vegetables relax, giving up some of their rigidity.
Add the tomato and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the water, bring to a boil, skim and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine chinois.
If you can get local shrimp with the heads on, use them! The heads are where most of the flavor is.
ADD THE REMAINING INGREDIENTS
Brown the ham and sausage with 1 tablespoon of butter.
Add the shrimp, garlic and Cajun spice, and saute without burning the spice (2 minutes).
Add the tomatoes and green onion, continuing to saute until the tomato renders some juice.
Moisten with the shrimp stock and bring to a bubble (not a boil), and finish with butter.
Serve over the creamy grits.
For more delicious recipes courtesy of chef Frank Lee, be sure to pick up a copy of his book The S.N.O.B. Experience: Slightly North of Broad.