What does one do with leftover shrimp? In the previous article I described a dish of Creole Shrimp and Grits using my favorite Gulf shrimp — Key West Pinks. But, I made a “small batch cooking” shopping error and brought home twice the quantity of shrimp needed for the recipe. A colleague at work had recently asked if I could make a Shrimp Benedict. Having a ample supply of leftover wild caught shrimp, I set out to experiment with making this dish.
A classic Benedict consists of a lightly toasted English muffin, topped with sliced ham, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. There are many variations of the Benedict. Some replace the English muffin with other breads such as biscuits and others substitute the protein. Salmon is commonly substituted for ham, for instance.
So on a Sunday afternoon I set to make a Shrimp Benedict using ingredients I had on hand. These included stone ground white corn grits, asparagus, Smithfield ham and eggs.The first step was to make grit cakes which are substituted for the English muffins in this version. The grits are cooked per the package directions. When done, goat cheese and a bit of heavy cream are folded into the grits. The cooked the grits are cooled and then spread on a sheet pan in a 3/4” layer before being refrigerated until solidified — about four hours.
After cooling, the grits are cut into 2 X 3” cakes which are then sautéed in butter until browned and set aside. At the same time, asparagus spears are blanched and slices of Smithfield ham are quickly sautéed. These preparations are also set aside until needed to assemble the base course of the Benedict.
The shrimp are peeled and de-veined and then dusted with a mixture of flour and packaged creole spices before being quickly fried. These are set aside to drain until needed.
The last step before poaching the eggs and assembling the dish is making the Crystal Hot Sauce flavored hollandaise sauce. The sauce is made in the classic fashion by whisking egg yolks with lemon juice in a stainless bowl held over a pot of simmering water until the eggs thicken and then slowly adding melted butter. The sauce is finished by the addition of hot sauce. (Note: The hollandaise sauce in the photographs turned out a bit thicker than I would have liked because the eggs where a bit overcooked in my improvised bain-marie.)
Poaching eggs requires a little bit of practice. The best advice I can give is to gently slip an whole egg in simmering water and carefully coax the egg together with a large spoon. Keep the faith. The egg will come together and in three minutes, or so, a beautiful poached egg will emerge. Remember, a poached egg is simply a vehicle to convey a rich, warm egg yolk.
The challenge of this dish is the number of ingredients that are all separately prepared. With all the ingredients at the ready however, the dish comes together quickly. The recipe is for two servings of two eggs each. Shrimp Benedict is a a great Creole style brunch dish.
- 1-1/2 cups of prepared goat cheese grits using the recipe from Creole Shrimp and Grits
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 dozen asparagus spears
- 4 slices of Smithfield ham approximate 2×3” each
- 1 dozen large shrimp, peeled and de-veined and cooked according the the Creole Shrimp and Grits recipe
- 4 egg yolks
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 stick (8 ounces) of unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoon Crystal Hot Sauce
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 green onion, light green parts sliced for garnish
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Spread cooked grits in a small sheet pan to a thickness of 3/4”. Place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or until grits have solidified. Remove cooled grits from the refrigerator and slice into squares approximately 2×3”. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add four squares of the grit cakes and cook until browed on both sides. Remove to a plate with paper towels to drain and set aside until needed.
- Trim the asparagus into 3” lengths from the tip ends. Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook in the boiling water for three minutes. Remove to a bowl of ice water and set aside until needed.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saute pan and cook the ham about 1 minute on each side. Remove to drain on paper towels and set aside until needed.
- Prepare the shrimp and set aside on a plate with a paper towel to drain until needed.
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl along with the lemon juice. Place over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the yolks begin to thicken. Add the butter to the egg yolks slowly while continuously whisking. When all the butter has been emulsified in the yolks and a creamy sauce has formed, whisk in the hot sauce. Let stand in a warm place until ready for use.
- Assemble the base for each Benedict consisting of a grit cake, followed by ham and the asparagus tips. Poach eggs one at a time for three to four minutes. Place the poached eggs on top of the asparagus tips. Ladle the hollandaise over the eggs and top with three cooked shrimp on each Benedict. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve.