Sara's Shrimp and Grit Cakes

24 cakes

Sara Foster, owner of Foster's Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shares her recipe for this twist on a Southern classic. Order seven pepper jelly from Foster's Market in North Carolina.


  • 6 cups water

  • 2 ½ cups quick grits

  • 5 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper

  • 2 bunches scallions, white and pale-green parts only (save greens for garnish), minced to equal ½ cup

  • 12 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal

  • Vegetable oil, for sauteing

  • ½ cup Seven Pepper Jelly


  1. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Butter a 13-by-18-inch baking pan. Slowly sprinkle 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 cheese, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper, and scallions.

  2. Pour the mixture into prepared baking 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 a shrimp half into each circle. Cover with plastic wrap, press down lightly to smooth, and refrigerate until set, 1 to 2 hours.

  3. Combine flour and cornmeal in a small bowl. Using a cookie cutter, cut the grits along the marked lines into rounds, keeping the shrimp centered in each circle. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon butter and enough oil to cover the bottom over medium-high heat. Dredge the cakes in the flour mixture, and saute, 8 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 lined with paper towels. Top with a scant teaspoon of Seven Pepper Jelly and scallion greens; serve warm.

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