Cooking Shrimp and Grits with Chef Carlos Brown

While perhaps an odd pairing to some, shrimp and grits is a mouth-watering stable that has been long adored by Southerners for generations. Brought to the Lowcountry by the Gullah Geechee, shrimp and grits gained popularity centuries ago as a sailor’s breakfast, or “breakfast shrimp” as it was more commonly known. Lowcountry fishermen would prepare the grits as an affordable, one-pot meal, adding whatever shellfish they caught that day to the pot. But it wasn’t until the 1980s when the dish shot into the culinary mainstream and began appearing in restaurants across the South.

A Charleston native, Chef Carlos Brown is a celebrity executive chef, philanthropist and founder of the Shrimp & Grits Café in Charleston. Serving both quality interpretations of classic dishes and daring new ventures into the uncharted territories of food all while “saving hospitality,” Chef Carlos’ award-winning shrimp and grits dish has been recognized across the country, including a feature in the Smithsonian African American Museum in Washington, D.C.

While it’s hard to go wrong with a classic shrimp and grits recipe, Chef Carlos shared with us a few pro tips on preparing the signature Lowcountry dish to ensure near perfection in the kitchen.

Corn is a great addition for an extra touch of sweetness and crunch to your grits. And the fresher the corn, the better. So, leave the canned corn in the pantry and the frozen corn in the freezer and opt for kernels right off the cob. 

Bleached grits, also known as white grits, don’t pack quite the punch that yellow grits offer. Try incorporating yellow grits into your shrimp and grits recipe for a more flavorful dish that is sure to impress. 

Synonymous with Lowcountry shrimp and grits, a brown sauce is a “must” for your recipe. While Chef Carlos has perfected his own specialty sauce, he recommends using a brown gravy made from a brown roux. 

When it’s time to cook the shrimp, sauté the prawns with olive oil instead of butter. You’ll still get the same result that you would cooking with butter, but olive oil is a much healthier alternative for your digestive system (which means no post-meal guilt).

So, what are you waiting for? Head to the kitchen and try your hand at this beloved Southern dish that will leave family and friends hungry for another helping! 


Production Team Chef: @chefcarlosbrown Photographer: @nmicklephotography Stylist and Producer: @andreaserranocurates  Style Squad: @morganshea97 @lizamcreativemedia  Hairstylist: @laurenbeautyvibes Makeup: @bellelinastudio, @citadelmallcharleston