Quick is the game these days. If you’re not quick you get left behind, mentally and physically. This is the case in business––and it’s also the case in every restaurant kitchen I’ve ever worked in or observed. Slow movements burn the souffle. Slow cooks get their asses handed to them.
There is indescribable reward in toughing it out in a kitchen under these conditions––a place where your pride lives or dies on your ability to think on your feet. But all I seem to want to write about this morning is taking it slow.
At home, cooking is slow. There is time for wine sipping. If dinner slips past 8, no one is worse for the wear. It’s the kind of place where taking a little extra time to stir the grits gently –- and to butter poach the shrimp correctly –– is usually fine by everyone involved. So allow me to introduce Michael Ruhlman’s shrimp and grits. A dish we made for Sunday dinner when most everyone was being lazy.
BONUS: At the end of the process, the butter you use to poach the shrimp gets added to the cooked grits–making them rich and creamy. So go ahead, give it a whirl. That is, if you’ve got the time.
Butter poached shrimp and grits
Recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s Twenty and also featured in this post from his blog.
4 ounces bacon, cut into small dice
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 1/4 cups high-quality stoneground grits
2 cups milk or vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup butter, cut into about 12 chunks
1 pound shrimp/prawns, peeled and deveined
4 lemon wedges
Place the bacon in a medium saute pan and add water, just to cover. Cook over medium heat until the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the bacon until it browns. Add the onion and cook until soft. Season with salt.
Add the grits to the pan and stir. Add the milk or stock and 2 cups of water. Raise the heat and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook the grits, stirring for about 30 minutes. Add milk or water as needed to keep the mixture fluid. The grits should not stick to the sides of the pan – so keep adding more moisture as necessary.[Ruhlman note: you can always cook off the additional liquid if you need to.]
Once ready, put 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan that is just large enough to accomodate the shrimp. Bring to a simmer and then add a chunk of butter at a time, whisking continuously as each chunk is incorporated. Once an emulsification has formed, add butter chunks 3 at a time and continue to whisk vigorously.
Add the shrimp to the pan and stir. Don’t let the butter boil or the emulsification will break. Lightly poach the shrimp until cooked through, about 3 – 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
Add about 1/3 of the shrimp butter to the polenta to finish. Serve with shrimp on top and lemon wedges.