Southern-Style Arancini or Fried Oklahoma Grits Balls with Creole Shrimp


Creole Shrimp (with Oklahoma Fried Grits Balls)


Fried grits balls (optional) - INGREDIENTS & RECIPE BELOW

2 lbs raw SHELL ON shrimp - use the LARGEST shrimp you can find.  Use the shells for the shrimp stock.

1 onion - finely diced

4 celery stalks - thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper - finely diced

2 TBS butter

1 TBS vegetable oil

2 TBS Creole seasoning

2 cups homemade shrimp stock - or vegetable stock (use bouillon cubes for a short cut) INGREDIENTS & RECIPE BELOW

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 large tomatoes - diced

2 TBS tomato pasta

Approx. 26 oz (or more) chopped tomatoes (canned or, preferably, from a carton.  READ HERE about why to avoid canned tomatoes) 

6 garlic cloves - sliced

4 bay leaves

6-10 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

Hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal or your brand) - to taste

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Fresh parsley - chopped

Scallions (optional) - sliced


Peel & devein the shrimp - reserving the shells to make shrimp stock.  

Heat the butter & vegetable oil in a large pan.  Add half the diced onion & saute until light golden.  Add the rest of the onion and the bell pepper & the celery.  Saute over medium heat.  Add 1 tsp of the Creole seasoning & saute until the vegetables are tender.

Add tomato paste, the canned tomatoes, 4 of the diced fresh tomatoes (reserving one diced tomato for garnish later) and 1/2 tsp salt - and stir in well.  Saute until the tomatoes begin to incorporate.  Turn the heat to high & add the white wine.  Cook for a minute or two & then add the shrimp stock (NOT THE SHRIMP), garlic, bay leaves, cayenne, black & white peppers, fresh thyme, hot sauce & Worcestershire sauce & stir in well to blend the flavors.  Let simmer on low for 30-45 minutes. 

If your Creole sauce is too thick - add water or more canned diced tomatoes.  If it is too thin - increase the heat & add 1 TBS of cornstarch mixed with 2 TBS water to your Creole sauce.  This should thicken it nicely.

Taste it & add some of the remaining Creole seasoning and or salt.  Add more hot sauce if you like a lot of heat.  

When you are about 30 minutes from serving - pop those fried grits balls in the oven.  5 minutes before serving - get the Creole sauce boiling.  Then - lower the heat back to a simmer & add your shrimp.  These cook pretty quickly & you want to be careful not to overcook them.  They will keep cooking even as you are assembling the dishes - so err of the side of just under-cooking them.  

When the shrimp are ready - spoon out some Creole shrimp onto each plate, add a fried grits ball or two from the oven & then top with chopped tomato, fresh parsley & sliced scallions (if you are using them).

Alternatively - you can serve the Creole Shrimp over a simple steamed rice.


Homemade Shrimp Stock


The shells & tails from 2 pounds of shrimp

1 medium onion - coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks cut into thirds

4 garlic cloves

4 bay leaves

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 TBS black peppercorns

1 lemon - sliced


Put 10-12 cups water in a large stock pot.  Add the other ingredients.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.  Cover & simmer for about an hour.  Strain the stock through a colander of cheesecloth or a mesh strainer.  Measure out 2 cups & set aside.  Put the rest in freezer-safe containers & freeze them up for another day.


Southern-Style Arancini or Fried Oklahoma Grits Balls


Oklahoma Cheese Grits - INGREDIENTS & RECIPE BELOW

1/2 pound pepper jack (or other spicy cheese) cubed

2 cups bread crumbs.   I used a combo or regular & panko

2 cups flour

4 eggs beaten

Creole seasoning

6 cups vegetable oil for frying


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour in a bowl, the beaten eggs in another & the bread crumbs in yet another.  Add about 1 TBS Creole seasoning to each & blend.  Scoop out a handful of cooled grits & create a ball.  Mine were about the size of a pool ball.  Press a piece of cubed cheese into the center & seal the ball back up.  Dredge this through the flour then the eggs then the bread crumbs.  Set aside on a baking sheet as you do this for the rest of the grits.  I ended up with about 20 grits balls.  I froze 16 of them - two each to a freezer baggy - for the future.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  When hot, add your grits balls & fry until golden - turning them so they color evenly.  It takes about 3-4 minutes to get them nice & brown.  Remove from the oil & drain on paper towels & set aside as you make your Creole shrimp.   If you want to eat them plain or with another dipping sauce (arrabiata anyone?) - bake them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or so - to be sure they are hot & the center cheese cube is melted.   If you are going through with the whole Creole Shrimp thing - put off the baking until you are 20-30 minutes from being ready to serve the Creole Shrimp.


Oklahoma Cheese Grits - from


6 cups water

1 1/2 cups grits (fast cooking)

3/4 cup butter

1 pound grated cheese (I used a nice cheddar)

2 tsp Creole seasoning

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1 TBS hot pepper sauce (I used more than they called for)

2 tsp salt

3 eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.  I used a vintage casserole dish.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in grits, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the butter, cheese, seasoning salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and salt. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and fold in the eggs. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the top is lightly browned.  Remove from oven & eat - or cool if you are gonna make the grits balls.