Shrimp and Grits for Brunch

I’m not good at mornings. In fact I’m a cranky half-present slow-poke every weekday morning. But weekend mornings are different, especially if I have someone to cook for. I love to roll out of bed on the later side of morning and float around the kitchen alone in my pajamas making a big brunch. This Saturday I had just such a morning, and spent two happy hours putzing around the kitchen getting ready to serve brunch to my cousin Leah, her boyfriend Sam, and her friend Kelsey. I made shrimp and grits, adapted from this recipe I’d seen in Saveur. I baked some gluten-free biscuits, and mixed up a pitcher of my most recent favorite morning drink concoction which I’ve decided to name The Gin-Cilantro Fizz.

I was worried that perhaps the shrimp and grits would be too heavy for brunch, but served with a side of baby arugula salad and platters of fresh fruit on the table it did the trick quiet nicely. The grits were thick and cheesy and spiked with sweet corn kernels. Topped of with peppery fried shrimp, saucy mushrooms, bits of bacon, and lots of chopped scallion, these grits happily kept me full for the rest of the day.

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4

1 cup yellow corn stone-ground grits
3/4 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup frozen sweet corn
4 slices bacon, chopped 
8 oz. medium shrimp, peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon wedges
1/2 tsp. hot sauce, preferably Tabasco
4 scallions, thinly sliced

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tsp. salt and reduce heat to low and whisk in grits.
Cook, whisking frequently, until grits are tender and creamy, 30–40 minutes. (Whisk in more water for thinner grits.)
Whisk in corn, cheddar and parmesan, cover and set aside.
Cook bacon until crisp in a large skillet over medium heat.
Transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Reserve cooking fat in skillet.
Season shrimp with salt and a liberal dose of freshly ground black pepper.
Over medium-high heat, add shrimp to skillet and cook, turning once, until bright pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate with a slotted spoon or tongs.
Lower heat to medium; add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 minutes.
Raise heat to high, add chicken broth, and white wine, and scrape bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon to remove any browned bits.
Cook until broth reduces by half, about 5 min, then return shrimp to skillet along with the lemon juice and hot sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
Divide grits between 4 plates and top each with shrimp and its mushroom sauce then garnish each with bacon, scallions, and a lemon wedge.

Gin-Cilantro Fizz
serves 4

This recipe is nice and mild and morning friendly. If you’re looking for more of a kick, double to amount of gin. 

3 oz. St Germain
3 oz. gin
1 Tbs. agave nectar
juice of 1 lime plus 1 lime, sliced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
seltzer water

In a medium pitcher, mix together the St Germain, gin, agave, lime juice and lime slices, and cilantro.
Let sit, refrigerated, at least one hour.
Just before serving, fill the pitcher with ice cubes and top off with seltzer water and give it a good stir.