Sunday Brunch: Shrimp and Grits with Grits Crust and Shrimp Butter

CHICAGO -- Chef Todd Richards, author of "Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes" stopped by WGN to share his recipe for shrimp and grits with grits crust and shrimp butter.

Shrimp and Grits with Grits Crust and Shrimp Butter

Utilizing grits as a coating for the shrimp speaks to the grain’s versatility. Grits used in this manner are a great coarse substitute for cornmeal in most dishes. Where cornmeal is finely milled, grits add toothsome crunch to a dish and are a better-suited breading for protecting leaner proteins such as shrimp or mild fish such as flounder.

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds head-on, unpeeled large raw shrimp
1 cup (8 ounces) whole buttermilk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup uncooked instant grits or polenta
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) blended olive oil
Shrimp Butter (below)
Lemon wedges

1. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the heads on. Reserve the shells to make the Shrimp Butter.

2. Combine the buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl or large ziplock plastic freezer bag. Add the shrimp. Cover or seal, and refrigerate 15 minutes.

3. Stir together the grits, salt, granulated onion, granulated garlic, and black pepper in a shallow dish.

4. Remove the shrimp from the marinade; discard marinade. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Dredge the shrimp in the grits mixture, and toss to coat. Fry shrimp, in 2 batches, until the shrimp are done and the crust is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain the shrimp onto a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with Shrimp Butter and lemon wedges.

Note: Using head-on shrimp is essential to providing excellent shrimp flavor to a dish. Some people might find it difficult to see the head on the plate. In that case, cook the shrimp with the heads on and remove them before plating.

To Drink: Champagne, Chardonnay, dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, amber beers, dark beers, hard ciders, IPAs

Serve with: Braised greens; breakfast, potato, egg, bean, and smoked dishes; mixed green and tomato salads

Shrimp Butter

A classic court bouillon, made by sautéing the shrimp shells and simmering with wine aromatics, is blended with butter to highlight flavors of salt and sea. It’s less assertive than Crawfish Butter but is an ideal accent for my Shrimp and Grits with Grits Crust and Shrimp Butter.

1 teaspoon blended olive oil
3 ounces shrimp shells (about 1 1/2 cups) (from 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp)
1 tablespoon dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 thyme sprig
1 pound (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium stockpot over medium. Add the shrimp shells, and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add the wine, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Remove from the heath. Remove and discard the thyme sprig.

2. Transfer the shrimp shell mixture to the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes. Press the mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl using the back of a spoon. Discard solids.

3. Stir the lemon zest into the butter mixture. Transfer the shrimp butter to an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 2 cups.