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The Cahill Family’s Shrimp and Grits Recipe from Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly, a novel from Marie Bostwick

The Cahill Family’s Shrimp and Grits


  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2 T butter, divided
  • 4 oz bacon, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and small diced
  • 23 green onions thinly sliced, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 cup chicken or shrimp broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • Tabasco sauce (optional)


  1. Bring 4 cups of water and ½ tsp salt to boil in a heavy bottomed pot. Slowly stir in the grits. (Using a wire whisk will help eliminate lumps.)
  2. Lower heat to a simmer and place a cover the pot. Simmer grits for 5 minutes. Add cheese and 1 T of butter to the pan. Stir to melt. Turn heat off under burner and cover pan to keep grits warm while making the shrimp.
  3. Place bacon in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the fat is rendered and bacon is crisp and brown. Use a slotted to spoon to remove the bacon and set it aside, leaving the grease in the pan.
  4. Add the shrimp to the pan with the bacon grease.  Cook for about 3 minutes, until shrimp turns pink on both sides. (Don’t overcook!) Remove shrimp from pan and set aside, covering to keep warm.
  5. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add bell pepper and scallions to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables are slightly softened.
  6. Pour broth into pan. Bring broth to a boil while using a spatula to scrape up any browned bit from the bottom of the pan, creating a thin sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat. Add the cooked bacon, shrimp, and vegetables to the pan. Stir to combine with the sauce and heat through.
  7. Divide reserved grits among 4 bowls. Top with equal portions of the shrimp and sauce. Garnish with parsley and add a few dashes of Tabasco if desired. Serve immediately.