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Recipe: Shrimp with Red-Eye Gravy (aka Shrimp and Grits)


Recipe: Shrimp with Red-Eye Gravy (aka Shrimp and Grits)
Dave Scantland
Although "shrimp and grits" recipes vary widely, this is the sort of dish that most people in the South think of when they hear the term. Loosely based on a recipe from Savannah Seasons by Elizabeth Terry, it's spicy but balanced. The unusual technique for cooking the mushrooms is easy and results in beautifully browned and deeply flavored mushrooms.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 4-8 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup coffee, freshly brewed
  • 2 T flour
  • 3/4 C Clamato (or tomato juice)
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal
  • 8 ounces peeled and deveined raw medium or large shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme*


1. Place the mushrooms in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the mushrooms. Add the salt and butter or olive oil to the mushrooms and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat so the water continues to boil and cook until the water evaporates. Stir the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat, sauté the bacon until browned. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Pour off all but enough bacon fat to coat the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the onion to the pan and cook until lightly browned.

4. Add sherry and coffee and stir, scraping up the browned fond on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes (this may take a few minutes longer, depending on your pan size).

4. Dissolve the flour in the Clamato. Add 1 teaspoon of the pepper sauce and whisk into gravy.

5. Return the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the raw flour taste is gone and sauce has thickened.

6. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. If you're using smaller shrimp, 3 minutes may be enough time.

7. Remove from heat and add the mushrooms and bacon. Add the thyme and stir in the additional pepper sauce, if desired.

* If you don't have any fresh thyme, add 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme with the Clamato-flour mixture instead.

8. Serve over grits.

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