The quest for perfect shrimp and grits is a Southern pastime, and there's no shortage of twists on this classic Lowcountry dish.
You can find them cheesy, with Tasso gravy, or peppers, or Andouille sausage ... the possibilities are endless, with a Google search for "shrimp and grits recipes" generating 250,000+ results.
Jekyll Island will celebrate this classic dish at the Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival from Sept. 19-21.
Festivities kick off Friday night with $3 shrimp and grits samples from a variety of vendors, so guests can play judge and find their favorite style - and all will be made with wild Georgia shrimp.
Publicity director Mary Eva Tredway shares, "Wild Georgia shrimp caught off the coast of Georgia are sweeter than other shrimp because of the spartina marsh grass, which is related to sugar cane."
Past offerings included shrimp and grits benedict and a shrimp and grits chile relleno, so the palate-pleasing possibilities are endless.
Besides a smorgasbord of shrimp, festivalgoers will enjoy live entertainment, cooking competitions - with bonus points for using local ingredients recognized under the Georgia Grown program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture - and plenty of craft brews featuring the young Jekyll Island Brewing.
"The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival has expanded to celebrate all things Georgia, and there are many excellent craft brewers in Georgia.
"Seafood and beer go hand in hand, and the Craft Brew Tasting has become an opportunity for craft brewers to share their seasonal brews," Tredway says.
Speaking of celebrating Lowcountry culture, Southern Living will host a large cooking demonstration with several celebrity chefs.
Belinda Skelton, host of Atlanta Living, will be broadcasting her show live from the festival on Saturday.
Live music is also on hand, with Rob Crosby and friends offering songwriters in the round at 5 p.m. Saturday.
For newcomers, Tredway promises a weekend of "great food, great music and great arts and craft vendors."
She notes there are still rooms available on Jekyll Island at Villas by The Sea Resort, and festival rates are available at Embassy Suites in Brunswick and the Holiday Inn Express on St. Simons.
One-Pot Shrimp & Grits
Yield: Makes eight servings
Total: 1 hour, 5 minutes
8 ounces andouille sausage, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds peeled, large raw shrimp, deveined
1 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups organic vegetable broth
1 14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked regular grits
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Fresh oregano sprigs for garnish
1. Cook sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes or until browned. Remove sausage using a slotted spoon; reserve drippings in Dutch oven. Drain sausage on paper towels.
2. Stir oil into drippings. Cook shrimp, in batches, in hot drippings over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until opaque; remove with slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium.
3. SautÃ© onion and celery in Dutch oven over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sautÃ© 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in broth and next seven ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in grits; return mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Stir in oregano, reserved sausage and shrimp. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 more minutes.
Â- Recipe from Southern Living