While I’ve definitely kicked off the day by inhaling a cupcake or two when the urge (or sugar craving) strikes, I almost always want salty, savory bites first thing in the morning. At home, that translates to scrambled eggs and spicy sautéed veggies; at camp, it’s breakfast “risotto,” a creamy, cheesy, herby, mushroom-studded bowl of umami delight.
Now, I could just call this mushroom grits, but really, it’s all about continually stirring and adding extra liquid, a la risotto, to get those grits nice and creamy before you add any dairy to the party. Plus, using fixings like earthy shrooms and bright parsley (or whatever else you decide to chuck in—fresh asparagus is an excellent option) means this savory dish translates just as well to dinnertime.
Speaking of flexibility, what I love nearly as much as its taste is the fact that this bougie breakfast plays well both at base camp and while backpacking; just substitute dehydrated mushrooms and pack all of the ingredients in lightweight travel containers if you’re noshing in the backcountry. No matter where you fire up your stove, be prepared for visitors—the luxurious scent of baby bellas sautéing in butter brought fellow campers to my very fragrant yard during a recent trip to Joshua Tree. You might want to double the recipe just in case.
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking grits
- 8 oz of fresh Portobello mushrooms, sliced or diced (I use “baby bellas,” but you can also use porcini and cremini mushrooms; if using dried, be sure to rehydrate them first)
- 2 tbs grated parmesan (you can also use shaved parmesan)
- 1 ½ tbs butter
- 1 tbs chopped parsley
- ½ tsp salt (with additional to taste)
- Granulated or powdered garlic to taste
- Dried basil to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Chop mushrooms and parsley into separate piles and set aside.
- Add ½ tsp salt and 2 cups water to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add grits and turn heat down to a simmer (this will work best on a camp stove with an adjustable burner; if you are using a stove that can’t be adjusted, just hold the pot above the flame.
- Constantly stir the grits for 4-5 minutes; once the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add the remaining ¼ cup of water and continue stirring until it is fully absorbed and grits are thick and creamy.
- Remove grits from the heat and stir in 1 tbs butter.
- Once butter is fully incorporated, stir in grated parmesan, then add salt, pepper, dried basil, and garlic to taste.
- Melt remaining ½ tbs butter in a pan on low heat, then add the mushrooms and salt to taste. The trick is to cook them just enough so that they become somewhat juicy and don’t dry out—keep stirring!
- Divide the grits into two bowls, then top each with half the sautéed mushrooms and half the chopped parsley, and mix it all together.
- Enjoy your delicious, savory breakfast much to the dismay of the folks one campsite over who are stuck eating boring instant oatmeal for breakfast.