Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wexlers shrinp and grits and pickled fresno chiles

Wexler's Shrimp & Grits

Serves 6-8

This recipe from Charlie Kleinman, Wexler's executive chef, is a dialed-down version of what's served at the restaurant. You can make the rouille and pickle the chiles ahead.

1 large pinch saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar, to taste
1 large egg yolk
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
I small Yukon gold potato (about 2-3 ounces) boiled and peeled
1/2 cup vegetable oil
-- Kosher salt to taste
Shrimp, broth and grits
2 pounds large shrimp, shell on and head on if possible (see Note)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow medium onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head garlic, loose papery covering removed and cloves pulled apart
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
-- Juice of 1 lemon
-- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 large artichokes, trimmed down to their hearts, cleaned of their inner furry chokes, stems left on and peeled - reserve in acidulated water
1 cup quick-cooking grits
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 cup drained, Pickled Fresno Chiles (see recipe at top of page) or pickled jalapeno slices, or to taste
For the rouille: Combine the saffron and vinegar in a small dish; let stand until saffron begins to release its color into the vinegar, about 5-10 minutes. Puree the saffron-vinegar mixture, the egg yolk, garlic and Dijon mustard in a food processor until smooth and emulsified.

Chop the cooled potato; add to the processor and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully blended and mixture has a mayonnaise-like consistency. (If it becomes runny and grainy, it has "broken;" discard and make again.) Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 3/4 cup. Any extra will keep a few days for another use.

For the rest of the dish: Peel and devein the shrimp; rinse the shells and set aside. Cover and refrigerate shrimp until ready to use.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonreactive sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and whole garlic cloves; cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the reserved shrimp shells and continue to stir until the shells are pink and fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add the white wine; bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken stock and lemon juice, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Strain the broth into another nonreactive pot; remove artichokes from acidulated water and add to the broth. Cover and simmer over low heat until artichokes are tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove artichokes, cut each into eighths then set aside; reserve broth for the sauce.

In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil (for richer grits, substitute some milk or cream for the water). Add grits in a steady stream while continuously whisking to prevent lumps. Continue stirring over low heat until grits are tender, about 5-6 minutes, or per package instructions. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside. If the grits need to be rewarmed, you may need to whisk in a little liquid for a soft, spoonable consistency.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the shallot, garlic and pickled chiles, and cook briefly. Add the shrimp, toss to coat in oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the cut artichokes and 2 cups of the artichoke-shrimp broth (add water if needed to make 2 cups). Cook, turning the shrimp at least once, until shrimp become opaque and curl slightly, about 3-5 minutes, depending on size. Add 1 tablespoon butter, stir to incorporate, then taste the sauce. If you want it more highly flavored, remove the shrimp and reduce the sauce. Just before serving rewarm shrimp in sauce, taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve: Place about 1/2 cup of grits onto each dish and top with a tablespoon-size dollop of rouille. Spoon shrimp mixture and sauce over grits and rouille. Serve immediately.

Note: Kleinman uses large (about 16 shrimp per pound), head-on Louisiana Gulf shrimp that were caught less than 24 hours before, but recommends choosing whatever shrimp is freshest and sustainably caught.

Per serving: 367 calories, 18 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat (4 g saturated), 160 mg cholesterol, 478 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Wine pairing: Owner and general manager Matt Wexler suggests the 2008 Robert Foley Napa Valley Pinot Blanc ($25). Wexler's favorite match is a spiced wheat beer, Belgian-style Allagash White (12-ounce, 4-pack $10.99), which he says is a perfect foil for sweet shrimp and the pickled chiles.

Pickled Fresno Chiles

Makes 1 1/2 cups

4 Fresno chiles
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
Instructions: Thinly slice the chiles and place in a small nonreactive bowl. In a small nonreactive pan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil then pour over chiles; steep for 20 minutes before using. Chiles can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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