I’ve had this ongoing craving for grits lately. I rarely have them for breakfast anymore, dining instead on oatmeal, yogurt and granola, or raisin bran. In other words, healthy but not exactly soul-satisfying fare. For my birthday dinner on Sunday night, I knew I wanted something with grits. The obvious choice would have been shrimp and grits, but that wasn’t an option since W is allergic to shellfish. So, I went looking for something else with grits and found this recipe for grilled chicken, grits and a shiitake cream sauce on Epicurious. I made a number of revisions based on some of the reviewer comments and my need for more a little more spice and a little less fat. I also fixed some slowed-cooked grits that I bought in Charleston (that were to die for!), but included the recipe for quick-cooking grits here since that kind is more readily available. If you can't find grits at all, mashed potatoes will work.
Grilled Chicken with Grits and Shiitake Cream Sauce
For the chicken:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
For the grits:
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
For the sauce:
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into matchstick-size strips
- 16 ounces fresh shiitake and baby bella mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
- 1 1/2 cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage leaves plus extra for garnish
- Mix the oil, garlic and rosemary in a measuring cup. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add the oil mixture and the chicken to a zip-lock bag and massage to coat. Refrigerate the zip-lock bagged chicken at least8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
- To make the grits, bring the broth, half and half and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and salt.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until grits are creamy and tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To start the sauce, boil both stocks and wine in a heavy medium saucepan until the liquids reduce to one cup, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Cook the pancetta in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and golden, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl. Toss the mushrooms into same skillet and saute on moderately high heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the stock reduction and the cream to the skillet and simmer until it thickens to a saucey consistency, about 5 minutes. Mix in the pancetta and sage. Season to taste with pepper.
- Meanwhile, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Remove chicken from marinade. Grill until cooked through, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Spoon grits onto plates. Place chicken atop grits. Spoon sauce over, garnish with sliced sage, and serve.
It looks like a fairly involved undertaking, but it’s really not. Put the chicken on to marinate earlier in the afternoon. When you are ready to start dinner, there is a little prep on the chicken, then you can start the sauce and put on the grits. While those are cooking, grill the chicken. Roasted asparagus makes an easy side.