Shrimp cooked in bacon grease and bobbing across a lake of grits is about as Southern as y’all can get. These puddles of hominy are almost a kissing cousin of semolina and cornmeal and are the true definition of rib-sticking sustenance. Yet, if it’s treated with a little extra love and attention, you can get a similar squelching appeal (but lighter effect) from gussied-up quinoa. Gloss it with a little cream cheese for ooze and add in some lemon zest for lift. Cooking the quinoa in chicken stock will also help boost the flavors — though if you’re after an extra kick, try roasting the shells of your shrimp for 15 minutes in a moderate oven and infusing them in the warm chicken stock for 20 minutes. This may be a classic breakfast during a Southern summer when shrimp are in season, but I find it’s also a heartwarming dinner in winter — and a great way to revive any crustaceans you’ve stashed in the freezer.— Tori Haschka, Cut the Carbs!
Reprinted with permission from Cut the Carbs! By Tori Haschka, The Countryman Press 2015
Put the quinoa and chicken stock in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer with the lid on until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese, and grate in the zest from the lemon half (and then set aside the lemon half). You want a slightly droopy consistency, so if it is too tight, add more cream cheese or a slosh of hot water.
While the quinoa cooks, put a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter, olive oil, half of the chile, white bits of the scallions, garlic, and bacon. Add the reserved lemon half, cut-side down, to the pan. Cook until the bacon begins to render its fat and take on some color. Add the shrimp and cook until they have turned nicely pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan.
Squeeze the toasted lemon into the pan and scrape up any color that has clung to the bottom to create a rustic sauce. Serve the shrimp over the quinoa, topped with the bacon and pan juices. Top with the remaining chile, some piquant hot sauce, if you like, and a handful of the green bits from the scallions.