Your favorite Thanksgiving side dish meets your favorite low country vacation dinner. Hello, Shrimp and Grits Dressing. Where have you been all our lives?
Growing up in the upper Midwest, cornbread dressing was not part of our holiday (or any-day) ritual. My mom, and every other mom I knew, made seasoned crouton stuffing from Kellogs. One of the rare moments of brand loyalty in my frugal household (except for Hellman's, because obviously.)
When we moved to the American South my 3rd grade year, we were in a whole new world of stuffings and dressings and such. Our beloved Kellogs seasoned stuffing was nowhere to be found, but Stovetop shared shelf space with cornbread dressing in every grocery store. Over time, we grew to love the rich texture and flavor of our cornbread cousin, but I loved it most when my dad would mix a box of regular bread stuffing with cornbread stuffing. The highly seasoned regular bread stuffing mixed with that lovely rich corn flavor and made magic.
That's the same vibe I get when I make this shrimp and grits dressing recipe. The grits bring all that decadent, corny creaminess to the party, and the fine breadcrumbs and highly seasoned sauteed veggies bring a flavor explosion.
And the shrimp? Icing on our holiday grits-inspired cake.
So if you're looking for a new Thanksgiving tradition or Friendsgiving side this year, take this one to the party! You'll be the talk of the town, in the best way possible.
What you'll need to make Shrimp and Grits Dressing:
- yellow onion
- red bell pepper
- garlic cloves
- fresh thyme
- sea salt
- Old Bay Seasoning
- smoked paprika
- seafood stock
- uncooked grits
- large eggs
- fresh lemon juice
- fine dry breadcrumbs
- medium shrimp
- Parmesan cheese
Step by step instructions for shrimp and creamy grits dressing:
Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. I love making this dish right in my cast iron skillet. If using a baking dish instead of the skillet, be sure to butter or spray an 11-x 7-inch baking dish.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter, along with diced celery, onion, red bell pepper and minced cloves garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Sauté until veggies are tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika to the vegetables. Mix to combine and let the spices bloom in the pan for about one minute.
Add 3 cups of seafood stock to the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high to bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add 1 cup of grits and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir periodically until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are cooked, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the parmesan cheese.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of stock (cooled), 3 eggs and lemon juice. Whisk well to combine.
Add a cup, or about one-fourth of hot grits mixture, to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Then add the egg and grits mixture back into the skillet of grits, whisking constantly for about 30 seconds.
Finally, add the cup of fine bread crumbs and pound of medium-size raw shrimp to the grits mixture and stir thoroughly. Spread the grits mixture evenly in the skillet, or, if baking in another casserole dish, pour and spread evenly.
Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and scatter around the top of the dressing, then sprinkle with additional Old Bay.
Bake the dressing for 35-45 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the mixture is set. Remove from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Top with diced fresh chives.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for Creamy Shrimp and Grits Dressing:
Any kind of cajun seasoning would work - just start with ½ teaspoon first, as some cajun seasonings can be spicier and / or saltier than Old Bay Seasoning. Taste the grits mixture before adding the eggs to determine if additional seasoning is needed.
I have used white grits and yellow corn in this grits recipe and thought both were delicious. I've also started with uncooked regular grits or quick-cooking grits. The cooking time will be modified according to package instructions, but the final product will be lovely, either way.
Parmesan adds a lovely, subtle nuttiness to this dish that complements the shrimp mixture perfectly. But if you're looking for a southern shrimp and grits experience, a dose of sharp cheddar cheese will do the trick!
Seafood stock can be delivered to your doorstep from our friends at Amazon. If you have no time to wait, and are cooking for non-pescatarians, 3 ½ cups chicken broth would be a lovely substitute. Vegetable stock is also a good option.
The dish can be prepped in advance and cooked right up until the point you add the shrimp. Keep the grits mixture and the shrimp separately in the refrigerator and combine just before baking.
To store, cover and keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Shrimp and grits dressing can be reheated in the microwave or the oven until heated through.
The original recipe for Shrimp and Grits Dressing was printed in Southern Living Magazine more than a decade ago. I've modified the seasonings mixture to introduce more spice, and simplified the process of preparing the dish to suit my cooking style.
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