Grits may not be high on everyone’s list of comfort foods, but I just love them when they are made with some milk and cheese. It’s like wrapping up in a warm shawl or sweater; they fill you up and warm the belly. And I like their versatility, because they are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they pair well with both savory and sweet flavors. A hot bowl of shrimp and grits is a delicious treat for me.
And speaking of milk and cheese with my grits, it’s easy to make grits for people with lactose intolerance (LI), because low-fat lactose-free milk is an easy substitution. It’s regular milk, just without the lactose. And both cheddar and Parmesan cheese—two of my favorite cheeses for grits—naturally have small amounts of lactose, making them excellent LI-friendly additions to grits.
If you have lactose intolerance and want to try adding a little regular milk back to your diet, this is a good dish to experiment with. All the vegetables and shrimp in this dish help slow digestion and allow our bodies more time to digest lactose, which is very helpful for managing LI.
Shrimp and grits is a classic southern dish with as many variations as homes in southern states. My version starts with bacon, onions, celery, and bell pepper, along with fresh Roma tomatoes from our garden, some homemade shrimp broth, and Creole seasoning. Cook for an hour or two, then pour it over a bowl of hot, creamy grits, and you’ve got southern heaven in a bowl. The shrimp broth is easy to make, just cook the shrimp peels in water, then strain it well. Depending on how much shrimp flavor you want to permeate the dish, you can use more or less of the broth as desired.
Good shrimp and grits take time, so give yourself about 2 hours to put this all together. When I make grits, I usually choose coarse because I like the texture, but coarse grits can take a good while to cook, so for this dish I use quick grits (not instant). Anson Mills grits are from South Carolina, and I’ve grown quite fond of them for texture and flavor. I use their quick white grits in this dish and add a bit more low-fat lactose-free milk as the grits cook. Other brands of quick grits will work, too, just follow the package directions, using a 1:2 ratio of chicken broth to milk.
Shrimp in Tomato Gravy with Creamy Grits (aka Shrimp and Grits)
- 3-quart pot with lid
- 6 quart pot with lid
- 4-quart pot with lid
- 2 pounds shrimp (31-40, peeled and deveined, reserve the peels)
- 8 ounces bacon (chopped)
- 2 large yellow onions (peeled and diced)
- 4 stalks celery (diced)
- 1 large bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 3 pounds Roma tomatoes (diced)
- 2 cups shrimp broth (see below for instructions)
- 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups low-fat lactose-free milk (or fat-free)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Anson Mills Quick Grits
- ¼ cup grated reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
- Put the shrimp peels in the 3-quart pot and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain well and reserve the broth.
- While the shrimp broth simmers, cook the bacon in the 6-quart pot over medium high heat until the fat render and the bacon becomes tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onions, celery, and bell pepper and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the diced Roma tomatoes, 2 cups of the shrimp broth, Creole seasoning, kosher salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook covered over medium low heat until the tomatoes fall apart and make broth, about 1 hour or more as desired. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the peeled shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- While the shrimp gravy cooks, heat the the chicken broth, low-fat or fat-free lactose-free milk, salt, and pepper in the 4-quart pot just until it boils. Whisk in the grits, continually stirring to break up any lumps. As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits soften and soak up the liquids. Add a little more milk as necessary if the mixture becomes too thick. Stir in the Parmesan cheese just before serving.
- Serve in bowls with the shrimp gravy ladled over a helping of the grits.
More Recipes for LI
[Disclosure: I am an ambassador for the National Dairy Council Beyond Lactose Intolerance awareness campaign.]