I just love a meal like this: three simple, flavorful components that really complement one another all stacked up on the plate. The parts of this recipe could easily be broken up and used in many creative ways. For instance, I often use the shiitake bacon to make a stellar version of a pimento cheese BLT. The grits are great for breakfast topped with a poached egg and buttered toast, and the greens are a good respite from a typical cold salad any day.
Everything you see here is from the farmer's market. As you can see, Memphis in the springtime is a wonderful place to be. The variety of produce that is available is astounding: mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, grits, cheese, eggs -- all provided by local farmers who we know on a first-name basis. It's unbelievable!
Smoked Shiitake Bacon
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cups shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
Place a large frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is heated through, add the oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the mushrooms in one layer. (Do not crowd the pan; if you don't have a large frying pan, do this in two batches.) Allow mushrooms to cook for two minutes or until nicely browned on one side. Flip the mushrooms and add the brown sugar, black pepper, and smoked salt. Toss mixture to coat mushrooms. Remove mushrooms from the pan immediately as the sugar will easily burn.
Sweet Potato Grits
3 cups milk
1 cup grits
1 cup sweet potato (finely grated)
1 shallot (finely diced)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
2 eggs (beaten)
Bring milk to a boil. Add the next seven ingredients and work out any lumps with a whisk. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Temper the eggs into the grits. Brush olive oil into the cups of a silicone muffin tin. Pour grits 3/4 of the way into each muffin cup. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Allow to cool for ten minutes.
White-Wine Braised Swiss Chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot (finely diced)
3 sprigs thyme (leaves pulled from the stem)
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
2 bunches swiss chard (tough stems trimmed, roughly chopped)
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Sauté shallot in olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Once the shallot begins to brown, add the thyme, zest, wine, and sugar. Turn the heat up and reduce mixture by about 1/3. Turn the heat to low. Just before serving, toss the chard into the braising liquid and cover it with a lid. Leave covered for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, place one sweet potato grits cake on the plate, top with about 1/4 cup of greens and then a handful of the shiitake bacon. Drizzle some of the braising liquid over the top. I also love to finish this dish off with a bit of smoked feta cheese.