There is no doubt that Charleston, SC is known for its history, its architecture and its beaches. But, over the years, Charleston has also become quite a culinary hotspot. Celebrating Southern appetites and local flavors, chefs fill their menus with dishes that highlight greens, pork belly and seafood.

Growing up in the lowcountry, I find that I long for its signature dishes when I am away for any extended period of time. I miss the pimento cheese (sprinkled with chopped jalapeños, of course), I miss the oyster roasts in the cold months, the boiled peanuts (they must be green to be good!), the collard greens and Hoppin’ John for the start of each year, fresh batches of Johns Island heirloom tomatoes (with Dukes mayo and white bread for an easy sandwich) and the absolute favorite, shrimp and grits.

Now, I’d say that most restaurants that serve shrimp and grits make them with tasso gravy and cheddar cheese grits, but I find that that can be a little too heavy for my taste. I’ve come to love the version that my very talented neighbor created and published one year in Bon Appetit! It’s much lighter and perfect for brunch (which just happens to be my favorite meal of the week).

So in honor of all things delicious in Charleston and in celebration of one of my favorite Charleston festivals going on this weekend, The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, I’ve included in this blog my neighbor’s recipe for shrimp and grits. I hope that you’ll love it just as much as I do!

Shrimp and Grits

3 cups water
3/4 cup grits
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 lb fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp half and half
3 tbsp butter
1/2 lime
fresh parsley as garnish on side

Bring water, salt, and one tablespoon of butter to a boil. Add grits. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and cream cheese. Cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add shrimp and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Squeeze juice from 1/2 lime over shrimp in skillet. Stir and remove from heat. Spoon grits onto center of plate. Place shrimp on top of grits and drizzle lime butter over all. Garnish with several sprigs of fresh parsley and lime twists.

Serve with chilled champagne. A lovely arugula salad with figs, grape tomatoes, shaved parm and a garlic citrus vinaigrette also pairs perfectly. Cheers! Bon Appetit!

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