‘Round the Table: Grits: The Staple of the South

Men may be created equal, but grits are not. And sadly, in this day and age, cooking grits is fast becoming a lost art. Read on for descriptions of commonly found varieties of grits as well as a few recipes to showcase this Staple of the South.

Stone Ground Grits: made from whole, dried corn kernels; these grits are coarse, have a speckled appearance and richer flavor. They may require rinsing before cooking. Stone-Ground grits are less processed and therefore more perishable; store in the freezer.

Quick or Regular Grits: The only difference in these types is how big the corn granules are. Quick grits are finer and cook in about 5 minutes; regular grits are a medium grind and require 10 minutes of cooking.

Instant Grits: Bless your heart. I don’t know what to say besides, don’t.

I can’t think of Grits without thinking of Joe Trapp’s Grits. If the long cooking time of stone ground grits throws you off, try the slow cooker method.

Delicious Grits

Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 to 4½ cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of stone ground grits (not quick cooking for Heaven’s sake)
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons of butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place the water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits and stir until no lumps remain.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently for 40 to 50 minutes depending on the grind. As the grits thicken, they can scorch easily, so be sure to stir often.  If the grits absorb all the water before they are done, then gradually add more hot water as needed.

Beat in the butter and black pepper and serve hot.

Tired of babysitting stone ground grits? Use the crockpot!

Slow Cooker Instructions

NOTE: Only cook stone ground grits in the slow cooker. Instant or quick cooking grits will turn to paste if cooked for too long. Slow cooker temperatures may vary; be sure to check the grits frequently to make sure they are cooking correctly.

Spray the crock of the slow cooker with non-stick spray. Boil the water and then add the boiling water, salt and grits to a 3 to 4-quart slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.  Add butter and pepper as desired.

Congaree Milling Company introduced me to Blue Grits and I was instantly smitten; find them in local farmers’ markets and farm stores.

Your eyes are not deceiving you; those grits are blue! Made from blue corn, blue grits are higher in protein and sweeter than traditional yellow or white corn grits.

Blue Cheese Blue Grits with Buffalo Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings

Prepare Delicious Grits according to the directions above but substitute chicken stock for the water and blue grits for yellow. If you can’t find blue grits, use yellow grits. The blue veining in the cheese may give white grits a gray tinge.

While the grits are still hot, stir in

  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (I use Maytag)
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Top with Buffalo Shrimp (recipe follows), blue cheese crumbles, sliced green onions and more hot sauce.

Buffalo Shrimp

  •  1 ½ pounds of fresh shrimp
  • 5 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce (or your preferred brand)

Peel and de-vein the shrimp leaving the tails intact for easy eating. In a large zip top bag, combine 3 Tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika and hot sauce; add the shrimp. Massage the bag to make sure the shrimp are fully coated and refrigerate to marinate while you prepare the grits.

After marinating, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat; drain the shrimp and add to the hot skillet. Cook, tossing frequently for 2 minutes. After cooking toss the shrimp with more hot sauce if desired.

Breakfast, or dinner, in one pan! It’s hard to go wrong with Kiss My Grits!

Kiss My Grits

Yield: 4 large servings

  • Prepare Delicious Grits according to the directions above.
  • ½ pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled with 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease reserved
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 cups of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 ¼ cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 fresh eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  When the grits are almost ready, heat 1 ½ Tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease in a cast iron skillet; sauté the onions and jalapenos over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Remove the onions and jalapenos from the pan and add the asparagus; sauté until bright green and tender but still crisp; remove from the pan and add the tomatoes and cook the tomatoes until they release their juice and soften.

While the grits are still simmering but almost done, stir in the cooked onions, jalapenos, ¾ of the prepared asparagus and tomatoes. Then, stir in 1 cup of the cheese and ¾ of the crumbled bacon.

Add the remaining bacon grease to the cast iron skillet and pour the grits into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Near the end of the cooking time, remove the pan from the oven and make 4 indentions in the grits with a spoon; crack an egg into each indention and top with the remaining cheese. Return the skillet to the oven and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Serve with the reserved vegetables and hot biscuits.

 

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