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True grits

You can find shrimp and grits all over Central Florida. Or you can make it yourself

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I use about a pound and a half of medium shrimp to cook for four, but if you can afford it, use more. My mom once told my dad’s mother, “There are too many shrimp in this.” My grandmother replied, “There is no such thing as too many shrimp.”

My grandmother sautéed her shrimp in (a lot of) butter, a squirt of lemon juice, a dash of lemon pepper and maybe a splash of beer. Add to the hot grits – that’s it. It’s clean and fresh and simple. The butter and the lemon bring out the flavor of both ingredients so that the shrimp come off as the ideal buttery complement to the grits. It goes well with coffee, eggs and toast, and is the perfect breakfast version of this meal.

For dinner, you probably want something with a wider variety of flavors. Over the years, my wife, her mother and I have modified a traditional Charleston, S.C., recipe to meet our tastes.

Put some chopped tomatoes, green onions, and a pepper or two (whatever kind you have or like) in a pan with some butter (or olive oil) and mix them with a little lemon juice, some hot sauce, a shake of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of beer. Let it get pretty well done before you throw in all the raw shrimp you peeled. It won’t take long. Most people overcook shrimp. (This is another argument against big shrimp – they almost make you overcook them.) Stir them constantly so they cook evenly and when they’re just pink and firm, turn off the heat.

Then you can help yourself to a big old scoop of grits and ladle on the steaming shrimp and sauce. Put on a bit more cheddar, stir it up and enjoy.

Home cooking is traditional precisely because of the gradual innovations that develop over the years. There’s no reason not to add sriracha hot sauce to your shrimp and grits; it’s an improvised meal. But the trick, as with everything, is not to add so much that you lose the flavors and textures that worked together in the first place.

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