Shrimp and Grit Cakes with Seven-Pepper Jelly

These make a welcoming Southern appetizer for any gathering.

  • Yield: Makes 24

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 1999


  • 12 medium shrimp
  • 2 1/2 cups grits
  • 5 ounces cheddar cheese, grated to equal 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 bunches scallions, white and pale-green parts only, minced to equal 1/2 cup (save greens for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup seven-pepper jelly


  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch the shrimp until opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to ice bath until cool. When cool, peel and cut in half lengthwise along the vein. Discard vein; set aside shrimp.

  2. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly sprinkle the grits into boiling water, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium, and stir constantly until the mixture is thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in cheddar, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and scallions.

  3. Pour the mixture into a buttered 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan, and smooth out to a 1/2-inch-thick layer. Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, lightly mark out 24 circles in the grits. Press 1 halved shrimp into each circle. Cover with plastic wrap, press down lightly to smooth, and chill until set, 1 to 2 hours.

  4. Combine the flour and cornmeal in a small bowl. Using the cookie cutter, cut the grits along the marked lines into rounds, keeping the shrimp centered in each circle. Heat 2 teaspoons butter and 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the cakes in the flour mixture, and saute, eight at a time, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Wipe out the skillet, and repeat, adding more butter and oil, until all cakes are cooked. Transfer to a baking sheet or a plate lined with paper towels. Top with a scant teaspoon of seven-pepper jelly and scallion greens; serve warm.

Cook's Notes

The grits can be cooked and the cakes assembled in advance and kept refrigerated until needed. Do not worry if shrimp loosen from cakes as they cook; simply press them back into cake.


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