Shrimp & Grits with Bacon, Smoked Paprika & Aged Manchego

Confession: I’ve never had shrimp & grits before. So i was even more surprised to be craving it over the holidays. How can you crave something you’ve never even tasted? I took some liberties that would horrify even Paula Deen with this classic Southern dish and adapted it to my half-Spaniard taste buds using aged manchego instead of cheddar cheese and smoked paprika because it goes so well with sauteed shrimp and bacon.

There seems to be some confusions out there on whether polenta and grits are the same thing. The short answer is no. Corn meal and polenta are both ground corn, the only real difference is in the coarseness of the meal. Grits are ground hominy, and in fact, they are more accurately called hominy grits. Hominy is corn that has been soaked in lye or lime and then dried. It’s finally ground into coarse, medium or fine grits, the finer version being masa, the hominy flour that is used to make corn tortillas and tamales.

Like for risotto, making grits takes quick decision making and serious multitasks abilities like being able to reach for your glass of chilled Pouilly-Fuissé with your left hand while stirring the pot with your right hand (Pouilly-Fuissé is not an ingredient in the recipe but if you are the one designated to stand in front of the stove sweating, you might as well do it in style). The best part of it all? It’s cheap, quick and has the wow factor of something that has been cooking for hours.

  • Shrimp & Grits with Bacon, Smoked Paprika & Aged Manchego

  • Serves 4
    • Shrimp & Grits recipe:
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 cup stone-ground grits
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 2 cups aged manchego, shredded
    • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 garlic clove, chopped
    • 6 slices bacon, chopped
    • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • squeeze of lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
    • Shrimp & Grits recipe :
  • In a medium pot, bring water and milk to a simmer. Add the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat while stirring until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and aged manchego cheese.
  • Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan sautee the shrimp until golden, add the garlic, smoked paprika and lemon juice. Toss in the chopped bacon, parsley and scallions.
  • Spoon the creamy grits in soup bowls, top with the shrimp and bacon mixture. Shave some manchego over the top.
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  • Ginny

    yum! I’ve been craving this too… nice!

  • OysterCulture

    I have some grits, and was trying to figure out what to make with them. I need look no further. This recipe sounds just delicious!

  • mary

    Love your style. Always a joy to read your blog. And when I’m back in the States, can’t wait to cook up some of your dishes that are currently positively mouthwatering by photo and description.

  • Nisrine | Dinners & Dreams

    This is the ultimate comfort food, homey and delicious with a touch of sophistication. It’s making me hungry!

  • Bunkycooks

    I love your updated version of Shrimp and Grits! This sounds positively scrumptious! :)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Mary!

  • Dillon

    Looooks amazingly delicious! those succulent looking prawns.. Never had manchego cheese before, how are they like?

  • Mina @ Angellove’s Cooking

    OMG :) all your dishes are soooo beautiful!!!

  • Christo

    Ok so now you have FrancoSpanglified Italian food? Someone needs to put you in a head lock till you cry uncle.

  • Anonymous

    Oh no, not a head lock again!

  • Anonymous

    Manchego has the characteristics of sheep’s milk cheese of course, well developed but not too strong, quite creamy with a bit of sharpness.

  • Jean

    I had shrimp & grits at a wedding in North Carolina, and have been vainly searching for a NYC equivalent ever since. Nothing’s come close, but this is beautiful.

  • my boyfriend cooks for me

    Ok, so shrimp & grits has got to be my favorite food that I discovered while living in the South. We’ve always been pretty classic with ours (cheddar cheese, chives, bacon), but I love the Spanish flare you added. Filing this away for later…

  • Oui, Chef

    Ha….you should make horrifying Paula Dean one of your life’s ambitions! Nicely done, as always. – S

  • Anonymous

    I just LOVE shrimp and grits! I made them for the first time when we hosted a book party featuring “The Help”. It was great to talk about the book with the appropriate dish for the story! Great idea to use manchego! I’m totally craving this now…

  • Lulu

    Very interesting recipe! And looks so beautiful…

  • Claudia

    Hey, it’s a great recipe, but I’ll probably just use polenta for my grits. Sorry, you Southerners and wanna be. The paprika and manchego I can do.

  • Dillon

    Lovely. I’ll get my hands on some when I get to the states again!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    The problem with grits is that it can be hard to find the non-quick varieties when you’re not in the south. Sometimes polenta is your alternative unless you want to go with Quaker instant.

    I did actually manage to find some slow-cooking grits and I hope I remember where I bought them before the next time I run out.

  • Joanne

    Love the idea of using the smoked paprika – gives the dish great color and I am sure a well received pop of flavor – plus, I can’t really see how anyone can go wrong with Aged Manchego, for those who haven’t used it in cooking, it melts very well. Thanks for the recipe!

  • pigpigscorner

    Beautiful beautiful! I do crave for food I’ve never had before, too much foodgawking!

  • Tom | Tall Clover Farm

    Shrimp and Grits is a dish they serve in heaven, on demand. A southern boy now living in the Pacific Northwest, I make the dish with fresh shelled Dungeness crab and oooooh weeee doggie it’s good. It’s not crab season yet so for now I’m using shrimp, and not complaining.

  • Bren

    it’s such a popular Southern dish. I looooooooove me some grits. I’ll pass on the shrimp, but such a great combo! You’ve inspired me to make some, too! :) Hugs my dear.

  • mattie

    This sounds nice!   We don’t put milk or cheese in our grits (I think that’s a Charleston thing) but it may also be why we only have to stir them occasionally.  They’re still nice & smooth if you start with enough water & cook them a longish time with the lid on & just barely simmering.  If you turn off the heat & leave the lid on for a few minutes at the end they will thicken up nicely.  I should also point out that not all corn grits are hominy grits – you can find both yellow corn and white corn grits at if your relatives are too low down & no account to put together a care package. 

  • Betts

    Reading this at midnight and seriously thinking of making it.  You will be my undoing.  So glad I found your blog.