JACKSONVILLE – Shrimp and Grits Cakes





I have never been to Jacksonville nor did I have any clue what the culture or the cuisine was like there so this was an entire research project for me.  Turns out a lot of people have asked the same question.  While Jacksonville itself has a very long history it is a relatively new city in terms of carving out an identity for itself.  It is an up and coming place and now the largest metropolitan city in all of Florida.  I had been thinking about what I was going to do for Jacksonville for several weeks.  I thought this might be a good time to do fish tacos but decided to do that for Houston instead.  I had been thinking about doing a shrimp and grits recipe for this blog for some time and this seemed like a good opportunity as Jacksonville is not that far from the Georgia border and still a good southern place.  Then in my research I stumbled upon a very popular place that was famous for their shrimp and grits cakes.  I had never heard of that before, but I thought it sounded like a great idea since grits and polenta are basically the same thing.  It’s a great combination.  You get all the great flavors of shrimp and grits bundled together in one little cake like polenta which is a great accompaniment to many Italian meals.  So, while Jacksonville looks to establish its identity we will combine some great ideas into this dish which can be a side dish or main dish to pair with another.





1 ½ cups quick cook Grits

6 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth

4 TBSP Unsalted Butter

¾ cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Salt, to taste

Fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste

6 strips Hickory Smoked Bacon

1 lb. medium Shrimp (30-36 ct.), completely peeled and deveined

2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ cup finely chopped Yellow Onion

½ cup finely chopped Red Bell Pepper

2 Garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 TBSP Paprika

½ TSP Garlic Powder

½ TSP Onion Powder

1 TSP dried Oregano

½ TSP ground Thyme

¼ TSP Cayenne Powder

1 Lemon, juiced



  1. In a 4-quart pot place the Grits and Broth and heat to boiling
  2. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until Broth is absorbed. About 7 minutes.
  3. Transfer Grits to a large bowl and add 2 TBSP Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, and Pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. While the Grits cook in a large frying pan fry the Bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Place on paper towel lined plate.
  5. Season the Shrimp with Salt and Pepper
  6. In the same pan pour off all but 1 TBSP Bacon drippings. Add 1 TBSP EVOO and turn the burner on medium high heat.
  7. Sauté the Shrimp until pink on both sides. About 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the pan and transfer to a cutting board.
  8. Add 1 TBSP EVOO to the pan. Sauté the Onion and Bell Pepper until soft about 5 minutes.  Season with Salt and Pepper.
  9. While the Onion and Bell Pepper cook coarsely chop the Shrimp
  10. Add the Garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer
  11. Transfer the contents of the pan to a medium bowl. Add the chopped Shrimp.  Season with Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, Thyme, Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne.  Stir together.  Crumble the cooked Bacon into the bowl and stir again.
  12. Transfer the contents of the medium bowl to the large bowl and mix together. Add the Lemon Juice and mix again.
  13. Grease a large 9 x 13 baking pan with the remaining 1 TBSP Butter
  14. To the baking pan add the contents of the large bowl. Spread evenly in the pan to make level.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  15. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  16. Remove baking pan from the refrigerator while the oven heats. Cut the last TBSP of Butter into small pieces and dot the Shrimp and Grits.
  17. Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown. About 30 to 40 minutes.
  18. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Then cut perpendicular lines to make squares.
  19. When ready to serve use a spatula to lift each square piece of Shrimp and Grits Cakes to a serving plate


WINE PAIRING:  I would say wine is a better choice than beer, but you could enjoy this with a nice frosty one.  I would recommend an Italian white as the wine choice.  I would not say Pinot Grigio is a good option.  A nice, crisp, dry white wine from the Veneto region would be my top choice.


Author: Steve Melchior

I am a lover of many eclectic things; food, wine, art, music, travel, sports, movies, literature and of course The Grateful Dead. I combine all these interests into great ideas for food preparation and entertaining with friends and family.

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