Celebrating Mom Part I (Florida)

In honor of my mom’s big 6-0 birthday this year she received birthday celebrations in both Florida and North Carolina. I’m disclosing my Mom’s age to the world wide web not to torture her but because I honestly think her age is a testimony to her youthfulness. She is both young at heart and my friend Addison was shocked to find out her age considering she looks so young. Afterall, Joan Rivers (such a wise source) once said “Looking fifty is great… if you are sixty.”

In the sunshine state, my mom’s best friends (aka The Yardbirds) hosted a surprise party for my Mom the Sunday before she came north to visit in Greensboro. Debbie, in typical fashion, orchestrated a surprise party for my mom including their favorite activities – getting dirty in the yard, drinking champagne and cooking and eating good food. She put her own twist on Tyler Florence’s recipe for The Ultimate Shrimp and Grits. And, I have to brag – Debbie frequently make’s Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac and Cheese after I made it for them last spring. She used the same cheeses from that recipe in the grits for the Shrimp and Grits. She sent me the variation on the recipe to share. Thanks Debbie, I wish I could have been there to try it!

Debbie’s Ultimate Shrimp and Grits based on Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Shrimp and Grits


For grits:

  • 3 C milk
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • 1 C stone-ground white cornmeal
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded ( about 2 1/2 to 3 C)
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 4 C)

For shrimp:

  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb andouille or spicy Italian sausage, cut in chunks
  • ¼ C flour
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 4 green onion, sliced


For grits:

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat, stir in butter and cheeses, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp:

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add sausage and cook, stirring until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2-3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and gravy is smooth and thick. Add cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper; stir in parsley and green onion. Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Add shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately.


  1. I knew there would be a NC celebration! It was so fun here in Gville. Mary, love your patio story…wasn’t it the perfect weekend? Wind aside!

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