Remove and reserve the shrimp shells; leave
the tail piece on, if you like. Devein the shrimp.
Place the reserved shrimp shells in a small
saucepan and add just enough water (about
2 cups) to cover. Add the thyme, garlic, and
bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer,
and cook for 20 minutes. Let cool briefly. Position a fine-mesh strainer in another small
saucepan, and strain the liquid into it. Bring to
a gentle boil and cook until reduced to about
1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 4-1/2 cups of
water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Gradually add the grits, whisking constantly.
Bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat
to the lowest setting. Cook, stirring often and
adding more water a little at a time as needed,
until the grits are tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in a large
skillet over medium heat. Season the shrimp
well with salt and pepper, and cook, flipping
once, until barely pink on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes
total (they get reheated later). Remove the
shrimp from the pan. Add another 1 Tbs. butter
and the shallot to the skillet, and cook, stirring,
until softened but not brown, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally,
until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the banana
pepper and reserved shrimp-shell broth. Cook,
stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 3 to
5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scallions, 1 Tbs.
of the butter, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, and
cook, adding 1 to 2 Tbs. water if the pan looks
dry, until just heated through, about 2 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the
shrimp to the pan, cover, and keep warm.
To serve, stir the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the hot sauce into the grits. (If the grits have become too stiff for your liking, stir in some warm water.) Season to taste with salt and more hot sauce. Spoon the grits into 4 to 6 bowls. Top with the shrimp-vegetable mixture and serve.
nutrition information (per serving):
510, Fat Calories
16, Saturated Fat
3, Polyunsaturated Fat
3.5, Monounsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips