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If you’re tired of theprevailing methodfor shrimp perfection, Michael Ruhlman’s mouth-watering preparation is impossible to pass up and impossible to ruin. In the Butter chapter – and he had me at butter chapter – from his James Beard Award winning cookbook,Twenty,Ruhlman dissects twenty cooking techniques and foods from Water to Fry to Acid to Batter and sixteen other basically intriguing topics.

Poaching shrimp in butter isn’t as decadent as it sounds. With half the butter he calls for, the shrimp was still sublime. Surprisingly the butter doesn’t seep into shrimp or overwhelm its subtle flavor, but rather gives a silky finish to a succulent bite. This method is easy because it requires little tending while cooking. Incorporating butter into the water at the onset requires momentary attention, but results are worth it. Butter poached shrimp is a meal for the family or guests.When served with bacon laced corn grits, the pairing rivals world class restaurant fare.

We’ll show you in the next post, what we’ve done with the leftover shrimp. I implore you to make extra.

butter-poached shrimp with grits

preptime 20 minutes serves 4

cooktime 3-5 shrimp, 30 minutes grits

4 oz bacon, cut into small dice

1 med. onion cut into small dice

1 1/4 c stoneground grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

2 c milk or stock

fresh ground pepper & salt

1/2 c butter cut into chunks (recipe calls for full cup)

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined – cook 1 1/2 pounds for leftovers

4 lemon wedges


  1. In medium saucepan, heat bacon.
  2. When enough fat is rendered, add onion and “three-finger pinch” of salt – a tsp. to me.
  3. Add grits and stir.
  4. Add milk or stock plus 2 c. of water.
  5. Raise heat to simmer, and when it bubbles, turn down to low. Cook 30 minutes, stirring as needed.


When grits are nearly ready….

  1. Put 1/2 cup water in saucepan just large enough to hold shrimp. (Note: recipe calls for only 2 T water if you’re using the full amount of butter). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Watch temp here because you do not want water to boil during cooking.
  2. Add one chunk of butter and whisk to incorporate the butter into water.
  3. When the butter has begun to melt and emulsify, add three more chunks – continue to whisk or swirl to keep the butter moving.
  4. Continue process of adding butter until it’s all incorporated and the temp is just below a simmer. If you have an cooking thermometer, keep temp 170°-180°. If not, just keep it hot, without letting a boil come about.
  5. Add shrimp, maintain your heat, cook 3-5 minutes. When they seem done, check one shrimp by cutting it open.

Revisit Grits….Add shrimp water to bring grits to your desired consistency.

Serve grits and shrimp with lemon wedges


  • Make grits day before.
  • Prep bacon and onion ahead of time.

recipe adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s book Twenty, and provided in simplified form by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


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