Food & Drink

Sea Island Shrimp & Grits

Author and TV fixture Carla Hall shares her take on the Lowcountry classic, one of 145 recipes from her new book

Photo: Gabriele Stabile

“To celebrate from-the-garden freshness, I’ve added aromatics and vegetables and herbs to my take on shrimp and grits,” says Carla Hall, whose new book Carla Hall’s Soul Food  is out this month. “But I’ve kept out dairy, which isn’t big in Gullah-Geechee cooking. You don’t need it! Cream in grits is cheating. Yes, you have to stand over the stove and whisk for almost an hour, but your reward is silky grits. The only sauce here comes from the juices that the shrimp and tomatoes let out while cooking—and it’s plenty to run in rivulets into the grits.”


  • Grits

    • 1 cup stone-ground grits

    • 1 bay leaf

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • Shrimp

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on

    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    • ½ onion, diced

    • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

    • 1 teaspoon chile flakes

    • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and finely diced

    • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  1. For the grits: Bring 4½ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. While whisking, add the grits in a slow, steady stream. Whisk in the bay leaf and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue whisking until the grits are thick and creamy, 40 to 45 minutes. Stir in the thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Season with salt. Cover and keep warm over very low heat, whisking occasionally. I like my grits loose, so I add water if they start to stiffen. You can too.

  2. For the shrimp: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the shrimp to the skillet and sear until just opaque, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chile flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and cook, gently folding, for 1 minute. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the skillet and toss just until well combined.

  4. Divide the grits among serving plates and top with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe excerpted from Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebrationby Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko