stone-ground grits with prosciutto, shiitakes and gruyere sauce
Hi! I know it’s been a while…
In an effort to hold myself accountable to regular posting, I am starting a series called “State Dinners.” Each week I will post a recipe inspired by one of the 50 states. I’m thinking this will go in alphabetical order, but who knows? Maybe the Spirit will move and we’ll jump to South Dakota next.
This first recipe is dear to my heart even though it is from the state in which the college-football-coach-who-shall-not-be-named resides. Grits have always been a staple in our household. Frustratingly, there is nothing you can rush about good grits. They need time to cook slowly and absorb the liquid. My mom taught me to make grits with heavy cream, not just water. So basically, we are making holy food.
p.s. Because you probably need more butter as much as I do, which is about as much I need a hole in my head, here’s a great way to enjoy leftover grits… pack the grits into a square or rectangular dish and refrigerate. When you are ready to eat them, remove the grits and cut into 1″ slices. Heat a few tablespoons of butter in a pan until it is sizzling and lay the slice of grits on the butter. Cook for a minute or two, until browned, then flip and cook the other side. Crispy outside, creamy inside. You’re welcome.
The recipe below is based on the baked grits from the Highlands restaurant in Birmingham. My recipe is more like a soufflé, gaining fluffiness from the addition of two beaten eggs and a lush consistency from the heavy cream. The grits are savory but not overwhelming – much of the dominant flavor comes from the salty prosciutto and rich Gruyere sauce.
Stone-Ground Grits with Prosciutto, Shiitakes and Gruyere Sauce
1 c. stone-ground grits
1-2 tsp. salt
2 c. heavy cream, divided
2 tbsp. butter, softened
¼ c. grated Gruyere
pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup white wine
¼ cup sherry vinegar
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
1 slice prosciutto
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 stick butter, cut into 8 slices (1 tbsp. each)
2-3 tbsp. grated Gruyere
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 slices prosciutto, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps cut into 3-4 pieces
1 shallot, minced
thyme, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Use softened butter to grease the insides of four 6-8 ounce ramekins. Set aside.
In a greased saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of heavy cream to a boil. Add the salt and grits and stir to combine. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the grits are thickened. This will take about 45 minutes. Stir in an additional cup of heavy cream and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes longer until the heavy cream is absorbed. Turn the heat off and stir in the butter, Gruyere, and pepper. Once combined, add the beaten egg and stir to combine. Stir the egg in quickly so it doesn’t curdle.
Pour the grits into the buttered ramekins. Place the grits-filled ramekins in a 9” x 13” baking dish and add water to the dish so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins, probably 1″. Cover the 9” x 13” dish tightly with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook for 15 more minutes. Finally, turn the heat to broil and cook until the tops are golden brown.
While the grits are in the oven, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, bring the wine, sherry vinegar, minced shallots, bay leaf and prosciutto to a boil. Cook until most the liquid has evaporated, leaving just 1 tablespoon of the liquid in the pan. Turn the heat to a low simmer and stir in the heavy cream and a tablespoon of butter. Whisk to combine. Once it has melted, whisk in each additional tablespoon of butter one at a time, adding each piece of butter only after the last one has been fully incorporated. Turn the heat off.
Pour the sauce through a strainer into a small bowl. Then pour the strained sauce back into the saucepan and add the grated Gruyere and pepper. Set aside.
In a sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the minced shallots. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat and add the sliced prosciutto. Cook for 2 more minutes and add the chopped shiitake mushrooms. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil and cook until the mushrooms have softened and the prosciutto starts to become crisp, about 3 more minutes.
Turn the grits out of the ramekins and place on dishes with the browned tops facing up. Scatter mushroom, shallot and prosciutto mixture around the grits and spoon the Gruyere sauce over the grits. Garnish with thyme.