Cajun Shrimp with Cheesy Grits and Bacon Braised Collard Greens recipe from cocktail rings

Cajun Shrimp with Cheesy Grits and Bacon Braised Collard Greens

My brother goes to college at the University of Alabama so I love getting my fair share of southern comfort food whenever I go visit him in Tuscaloosa. For those of you who don't know me, I plan all of my trips around food so I usually have a list of places we have to go. In the South, this ends up being mostly fried foods, but when one is on vacation all bets are off. The South knows shrimp and grits. If you aren’t familiar with grits they are a type of porridge made from ground corn similar to a polenta. In my opinion they are always better with cheese (I mean, what isn’t?!). Grits are great because they can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This recipe will leave you craving a side of sweet tea.

The salty bacon balances the slightly bitter collard greens and compliments the creamy and cheesy grits and the spicy of the cajun shrimp. To keep the salt of the collard greens from overpowering the rest of the parts of the dish I opt to only season the shrimp with the cajun spices and no additional salt.



For the grits:

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup yellow corn grits

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Kosher salt, to taste 

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the collard greens:

¼ pound bacon, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ medium yellow onion, diced

1 large bunch collard greens (about 1½ pounds), stems removed and sliced into 1½” ribbons

1 cup chicken broth

Kosher salt, to taste 

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the shrimp:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound raw jumbo (16/20) shrimp, shelled and deveined, tail on

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 heirloom tomato, thinly sliced, for serving

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish



For the grits:

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the grits until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, breaking up any clumps with the back of the spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and then the cheese until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper.


For the collard greens:

Heat a medium sauté pan over low heat and add the bacon. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the fat renders and the bacon is crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Leave as much of the bacon fat in the pan as possible then add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the collard greens and sauté until they are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook, until the greens are tender, about 6 additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper and top with the bacon.


For the shrimp:

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt. In a small bowl stir together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cayenne and pepper. Season the shrimp on both sides with the Cajun seasoning mix.

Arrange the shrimp in the pan and sauté on both sides until pink and no longer translucent, about 1½ minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.


To serve:

Ladle the grits into warmed bowls then top with collard greens, sliced heirloom tomatoes and the Cajun shrimp. Garnish with parsley.


Serves 4. 



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