Southern Recipes: Crab and Grits

  • Pin It
  • print
  • email to a friend
By Damon Lee Fowler

Until shrimp and grits became the defining appetizer of any Southern fine-dining restaurant worth its herb garnish, grits was humble fare down South, something outsiders made fun of and insiders ate every day for breakfast and supper.

Before we go any further, let me explain that grits is a singular noun, even though it has a plural sounding ending. I should also explain that the everyday grits that traditionally graced Southern tables was not the presently fashionable whole corn grits that inevitably underpins that fancy shrimp and grits appetizer. It was snow-white, creamy-thick grits made from hominy, whole corn kernels treated with lye, the same grain used for masa (tortilla flour).

Depending on where you were and whether it was breakfast or supper, grits accompanied a whole lot more than shrimp: it might be as easily be eggs and bacon as grillades (smothered veal cutlets), smothered pork chops, fried chicken, or fish. As a matter of fact, back then shrimp and grits was strictly regional, found only in the Carolina/Georgia Lowcountry.

Another shellfish often paired with grits was lump crabmeat, simply warmed in lots of butter (or, if there was no butter to be had, bacon drippings). A supper dish so commonplace and taken for granted that no written recipes for it survive, crab and grits has all but vanished from Lowcountry tables, and might have been lost altogether were it not for a handful of wistful literary references.

When the crabmeat is fresh and sweet, it needs absolutely nothing but a little cayenne pepper—if that. Since crabs live in brackish water, it often doesn’t even need salt. When it’s not so fresh, however, it can be enlivened by adding a quarter of a cup of finely minced shallot or yellow onion and/or a clove of garlic to the butter before putting in the crabmeat, and finished, perhaps, with a dash of Worcestershire.

Good hominy grits is hard to come by outside the South (for that matter, nowadays sadly inside the South). You’ll probably have to be content with a national brand, of which I like Aunt Jemima best.

Crab and Grits
Serves 4

1 cup raw hominy grits
Salt
1 pound (2 cups) picked cooked lump crabmeat, in large pieces
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Ground cayenne pepper, optional

Lowcountry cooks wash grits before cooking to remove any lingering bits of chaff. Put the grits in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart porcelain-enamel or stainless steel pot. Fill it 2/3 full with water and stir with your hand until it’s milky. Let the grits settle to the bottom; the chaff will float. Carefully pour off the water. Repeat and then add 4 cups fresh water.

Bring slowly to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, and keep stirring until the grits begins to thicken. Loosely cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring frequently at first and then occasionally as it thickens, until tender and quite thick but creamy, about an hour for regular grits, at least 30 minutes for quick grits. Add salt to taste and simmer 3-5 minutes longer. Keep hot.

Meanwhile, pick over the crabmeat for bits of shell. When the grits is done, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the crab and toss until it’s hot through and the butter has absorbed its flavor. Taste and season as needed with salt and a little cayenne (if liked). Let it warm another half a minute and turn off the heat.

Divide the grits among 4 warm serving plates, spoon the crab and butter evenly over it, and serve at once.

Read More From Southern Recipes.

You May Also Like These Blogs:

You May Also Like These Recipes:

Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

54321

PLEASE SEND ME A RECIPES OF CORNBREAD DUMPLINGS AND TURNUP GREENS THANK YOU

By chatarawashington on December 09, 2011

54321

I have a friend that commes from Niagra Falls,NY originally. Having an Italian in her life, she likes polenta, but I can't get her to even try grits. I keep telling her they're the same grain,but noconvincing her. I agree with the recipe that you have to cook grits a long time for them to be really smooth and creamy. As the grits start to cook the water out, I start adding in milk and turn the heat down to real low. And of course you have to start adding lots of butter. I don't understand why anyone wouldn't like this delicious creamy goodness, even if they are Yankies.

By Veronica Prescott on September 22, 2011

54321

That plate of crab and grits looks absolutely delicious! We can still find wonderful grits here in the South -- we have an old mill called Adluh Flour - right here in the City of Columbia - that still mills everything on site. And let me tell you... their grits are out of this world good!! You should check them out! The old historic mill is beautiful and all of their products are just delish! Check them out at http://www.adluh.com/index.php Ellen

By Ellen on September 22, 2011

54321

I think Paula Deen is amazing. I saw her in person for the first time and her and Michel is just hillarous. I loved the show. I made an apron and left it for her. It was my first crafty piece so if some thingys come off, I do apologize.I hope Paule liked it. Evrone have a great day.

By laura garza on September 21, 2011

54321

RECIPES FOR SOUTHERN SAUCEAGE GRAVY AND BISCUITS

By DIANE MILNES on September 20, 2011

image
Paula Deen
Paula Deen
The Lady's Blog
The Queen of Southern Cuisine muses about her recipes, life and family. See Posts

Brooke Deen
Brooke Deen
Deen Mother
Advice on raising two boys (three counting Jamie). See Posts

Brandon Branch
Brandon Branch
Southern Style
Decorating Inspiration from Paula's Design Director. See Posts

Julia Sayers
Julia Sayers
Hot off the Press
Step behind the pages and let the Associate Editor of Cooking with Paula Deen fill you in on what goes into creating every issue. See Posts

Lisa Scarbrough
Lisa Scarbrough
Thrift Store Mommy
Mom on a dime advice from Paula's Digital Properties Manager. See Posts

Andrea Goto
Andrea Goto
Mom 2.0
Tips from a real-world mom with comedic tendencies. See Posts

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
Earth Mother
Practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. See Posts

Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Bubbles' Corner
Ideas and advice from a 21st Century young at heart Grandmother. See Posts

Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards
Southern Proper
Etiquette advice from a true Southern belle. See Posts

image

hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm