Here's What You Should Be Serving With Shrimp And Grits

It is entirely possible to spend three years deep-diving just to know more about the South's most ubiquitous dish. Just ask writer Erin Byers Murray, who did just that to go into the origins of shrimp and grits. The first recipe for the classic seafood and grain combo was published in 1930 and attributes the idea to the author's African-American butler, William Deas. Deas said that for as long as he could remember, he had eaten it at the start of every day during shrimp season (via The Local Palate).

Shrimp and grits would have had a fairly humble past. Murray says the grits would have been cooked in a pot, and to that would be added whatever was cheap and available, along with seawater and all that would make for a simple meal. Today's shrimp and grits evolved from the dish prepared by North Carolina chef Bill Neal, who prepared his grits with cheese. A former Neal assistant, Charleston chef Robert Stehling, built on the cheese grits concept by adding mushrooms, bacon, and Tabasco, and the rest is food history.

Shrimp and grits need a tart side dish

Given all the richness of cheese and bacon grease added to the potential weight of ground corn – which is really what grits, or hominy, is – readers have taken to Chowhound to recommend a variety of sides that can go with shrimp and grits. One user suggests sticking to the Lowcountry theme by serving okra. Another points to a salad with a lip-puckering, tart vinaigrette. A third suggests "Sautéed greens (collards, mustard, etc.). Chilled green bean salad w/ basil vinaigrette, topped with diced tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onions. Pickled veggies." 

Charleston's celebrity cookbook writers Matt and Ted Lee also talk about the wine that goes best with shrimp and grits: "The lemony quality of a good Chablis, or any clean, steel-aged Chardonnay, pairs well with shrimp and the note of smoky bacon in the dish" (via Wine Enthusiast).