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June 9, 2021
Don’t Overthink Your Shrimp and Grits

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Our Cook In Residence, Amethyst Ganaway, makes the case for doubling down on the seafood, and keeping the rest simple.

I’m going to admit it—I’m a grits snob. And I am 100 percent a shrimp (or any seafood) and grits snob, too. I try what seems like every day to get over this contemptuous feeling I have when I see the dish come across my social media feed or served at restaurants. I don’t want to be like this, and I truly want people to enjoy food however they see fit! But when I see a $30 bowl of shrimp and grits made with four hundred ingredients on a menu, it really grinds my gears (insert smiling single tear emoji).

I’ve attempted in the past to try out some of these dishes, because there’s no way they could all be terrible; I make sure I don’t order it from places like a burger or steak joint, where you shouldn’t be eating this dish anyway, and I’ve tried to be open to how the dishes are made. But time and time again, I am disappointed. And I know why! I’m a snob about it because I am from the home of the original. New Orleans has gumbo; New York has the dollar slice; and Charleston has shrimp and grits. I’ve been spoiled my entire life by local shrimp that are small and flavorful, fresh whiting and porgy, and crab, oysters, clams, and mussels caught right off the dock that morning. I don’t know runny, watered-down, cardboard-flavor grits.

I’m a brat, and I’m giving you my take on one of my favorite recipes that will make you see why I’m so annoyingly persistent about how this dish should be made. Adding some clams or mussels to this dish adds not only to the presentation but to the flavor of the hybrid tomato-roux gravy. Also, I’m a fan of eating with your hands as much as possible—it adds to the experience, and the flavor, too. You may not be able to get the freshest quality seafood or grits, but this tomato and onion gravy will make up for it.

RECIPE: Grits With Littleneck Clams and Shrimp

Amethyst Ganaway

Amethyst Ganaway is TASTE's current Cook in Residence.