Sounds so simple but don't think for a Lowcountry minute that there is anything simple about preparing this much-loved classic Southern dish - fresh shrimp, grits and half a dozen other ingredients come together to be the wingmen.

The first time I tasted authentic shrimp and grits was at the Ol’ Fashioned Gullah Breakfast served annually by Dr. Louise Cohen and her volunteers at the Cherry Hill School House at the intersection of Dillon and Beach City Roads - this ranks highly in my “firsts” of memorable meals. The grits had been cooking in huge pots on the small stovetop burners since sunrise. Unlike rice, which can simmer for twenty lonely minutes, grits command attention, and like young children, must be tended to with love.

Dr. Cohen had been up until two a.m. that very morning peeling pounds and pounds of fresh shrimp from the May River- the true definition of “sea to table”. By eight a.m., there was already a line of hungry folks who ignored a light drizzle and bundled up on this chilly morning who would soon be rewarded for making the trek to the historic schoolhouse to share shrimp and grits, oyster gravy and yes - freshly baked biscuits and coffee.

Red Eye Shrimp & Grits by Carrie Hirsch

Serves 4
One of the key ingredients is a smoked andouille sausage which adds a subtle spicy note. To shorten the cooking time for this recipe, peel and devein the shrimp and slice the andouille then cover tightly and refrigerate up to a day in advance.

1 cup water
2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup quick-cooking grits (Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits works well)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar or smoked Gouda
1/2 cup half and half
Black pepper to taste

4 strips thick-cut bacon
(1) 13-ounce link smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1/4” inch slices (about 2 cups)
1 cup black coffee
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Grits: bring water and broth to a boil in a medium pot, Stir in grits then reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from burner, whisk in butter, whisk in cheese then whisk in half and half and cover. If too thick, stir in additional broth.

Shrimp: fry bacon in a large, heavy skillet. Transfer bacon to paper towels, allow to cool and chop coarsely. Using the pan drippings from the bacon, fry the andouille slices over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add coffee and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes or until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Remove andouille with a slotted spoon and set aside in a covered bowl – keep warm. Add butter to the skillet, sauté shrimp for 2 minutes over medium heat, add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 minute, stirring often. Stir in lemon juice and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute. Return andouille sausage to the skillet.

To assemble:
Spoon grits into shallow bowls, top with shrimp, andouille, bacon and sprinkle with parsley.