Specialty of the House

December 6, 2013 

Shrimp and goat cheese grits from Weathervane at Chapel Hill's Southern Season.


Several months ago, I received an email from a reader asking for the shrimp and goat cheese grits recipe from Weathervane restaurant at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. Soon after, a computer glitch relieved me of 3,000 emails, including the original recipe request. By that point, I was already on the trail of the recipe. Even though I can’t credit the reader who asked for it, I thank her for her request here, as will you when you taste this delectable dish.

Andrea Weigl

In the three years that chef Ryan Payne has been the executive chef at Southern Season’s Weathervane restaurant, its shrimp and grits has undergone many transformations. He’s served it with tasso ham and barbecue sauce. He’s done a version finished with a smoked tomato butter. He’s even ventured into Creole territory with blackened shrimp and andouille sausage.

Why? Payne explained: “Number one, I get bored with it. Number two, it revitalizes a dish.”

The version on the menu right now is a favorite of the restaurant’s diners: shrimp with succotash and bacon jam served over goat cheese grits.

“This is the most popular version I’ve done here,” said Payne, director of culinary operations for Southern Season, which recently has opened a store and restaurant in Charleston. Payne added: “I’ve gotten very good reviews in Charleston, which is a shrimp and grits town.”

If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, Payne suggests substituting Boursin cheese or cream cheese.

If you want to taste this recipe at the restaurant, you need to visit before the spring, when Payne’s successor will likely introduce a new version.

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Grits From Weathervane restaurant in Chapel Hill. 2 cups water, or more as needed 1 cup milk 4 tablespoons butter 1/4 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 cup white grits 4 ounces goat cheese 3 tablespoons oil 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas 1 cup corn 1/4 cup scallions, white and tender green parts, sliced 1 cup vegetable broth 4 heaping tablespoons bacon jam (see recipe below)

PLACE water and milk in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in grits, turn heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

ADD more water, 1/4 cup as needed, if the grits absorb all the liquid but aren’t fully cooked. Add goat cheese in final 10 minutes of cooking and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and let sit on the stove until ready to serve.

HEAT oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, corn, scallions. Stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the vegetable broth. When the shrimp are cooked through, add bacon jam and stir to mix in completely. Serve shrimp over grits.

Yield: About 4-6 servings Bacon Jam Chef Ryan Payne uses fresh Roma tomatoes with the skins removed. Our tester had no issue substituting canned Italian plum tomatoes. From Weathervane restaurant in Chapel Hill 6 slices bacon, diced 1 large yellow onion, diced 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes 3 large garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 3/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

COOK bacon and yellow onion in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove some but not all of the bacon grease if possible.

DRAIN tomatoes, reserving juice. Chop up 2 cups tomatoes and add to the bacon and onions. Add garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. If jam becomes too thick, add 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice or water and continue cooking until onions are fully cooked. Taste and adjust sugar, salt and pepper if needed. This jam will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks to a month.

Yield: about 2 cups

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email aweigl@newsobserver.com.

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