Hooray for Shrimp and Grits

Last night I made shrimp and grits, a traditional southern dish popularized by Bill Neal at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.

shrimp and grits

I’ve had the shrimp and grits at Crook’s at least twice in my life and the best thing about the dish is that they don’t skimp on the shrimp. The dish is so full of crustaceans you almost can’t see any grits beneath. And then when you do get to the little chunks of bacon in the cheesy grits you realize you’re in heaven. At least the southern part.

I met someone recently who has a very southern sounding middle name and appropriately hails from the south. Southern California that is. That got me thinking about shrimp and grits, I guess because it stands out in my memory as one of those uniquely southern dishes.

So I cracked open my Remembering Bill Neal which contains his original recipe and went to town. The verdict: man, grits are weird, but they’re not bad. Of course now that I’ve got a massive box of them, I’ll have to think about working them into the breakfast of champions.



mmm… crook’s corner. eating that dish is the only time i willingly consume grits.

damn, that looks good. you sure you chose the right line of work?


Hey you could send a baggy of grits my way, apparently they make excellent ant killers.

grits kill ants? i’d assume that ants just eat grits. here’s the straight dope:


looks like just a myth.


Grits are food. They eat them and explode. It actually works, my neighbor uses grits while I have this nasty smelling posion that kills them equally as dead.

i wonder if your poison is responsible for killing her overfed ants?


Tragically no. My ants upped and moved 5 feet away from the front door to directly behind my car, while hers are actually gone. Go grits.


i like bbq joints cheese grits, tho they are almost polenta.

Bill Neal’s cheese grits consist of 1 cup dry grits, 4 cups water (prepare as directed) then add 4 tbsp butter, 1 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup parmesan. add salt and white pepper to taste.

At Magnolia grill they finally changed the menu to read Southern Polenta for all the displaced northerners who would cringe at the word grits.
HELLO! It all starts with yellow cornmeal!
Speaking of cornmeal, how can I change the view of Livermush? (which is about 80%-90% cornmeal)
Being from the Livermush capital of the world (Shelby, NC – who just hosted the 15th Livermush Festival this past weekend) I grew up with it on the plate. O.k start with changing the name, I know! The only thing I can come up with is Piedmont Pate. Anything that doesn’t use the word liver.

It’s funny how the people who love polenta would never dare it grits just like you have the people who are wild about their pate’s but would never consider something called livermush! That’s the simple south for you! We tell it like it is instead of trying to confuse you with sum faincy name! and then you show up in the south looking dumber than us becuase you wont eat grits or livermush because we don’t call it Polenta or Pate’
Thank You, Thank You very much!

Hey Webb, good to hear from you. I had to read this article just to figure out what livermush was: North Carolina goes hog wild over livermush

I think I remember seeing something like it in the Teeter, but I never experienced the stuff while I was in Chapel Hill. Let me tell you I have no shame in eatin’ grits. Though I admit, “Southern Polenta” has a nice ring to it.


Webb – I, too, grew up in Cleveland County…in Fallston. We made our own livermush, of course. Now I live in (gasp) Texas, and I miss absolutely everything about the Piedmont area, including livermush. No one here has ever even heard of it. I love your “Piedmont Pate” idea…that just might appeal to all the rich uppity ups here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area!


Livermush, how wonderful!!! I was raised in Northern VA but my dad introduced us to all kinds of southern cuisine – grits, liver pudding. Would all taste good right now.

I’m writing a cookbook on grits and Bill Neal’s recipe served at Crooks corner is the best I’ve ever tried. And you can only imagine how many recipes I’ve tried over the course of my life, especially in the past two years.

Your version of the CC grits looks amazing!

sarah, thanks, and great blog. you’ve inspired me to make some grits again soon.

i’m curious though, why the “sudden” interest in Bill Neal? just got a comment about him today on my thinking about bill neal post.


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