1½ lbs. medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
6 cups water
1½ tsp. salt, divided
1½ cups stone-ground grits (not instant)
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
¼ cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1-2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup grated medium to sharp cheddar cheese
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In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, lemon juice and a few dashes of hot sauce. Toss gently; set aside.
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To make the grits, combine the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits a handful at a time. Decrease the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and increasing more towards the end of the cooking time.
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While the grits are cooking, make the gravy. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until browned but not crisp. Mix in the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions and flour and mix well. Continue to cook, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the chicken stock and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Remove the pan from the heat.
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When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in the butter a small bit at a time to taste. Stir in the cheese and a dash of hot sauce. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit while you finish the gravy.
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Return the gravy to medium heat. Stir in the shrimp. Cook, turning once, just until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes total. Scoop the grits into warmed serving bowls and top with spoonfuls of the shrimp gravy. Serve immediately.