aren't hard, but why not take them up a notch?
one word, for me, conjures up images of the Southern
breakfast table (and beyond). With grits, itís understood
that the morning will start off right with a warm hug from a
bowl, topped with melting butter, maybe some cheese, some
crumbled bacon ....
Brown once said, when asked in an interview, that grits is
the one dish every Southerner should know how to cook. And I
believe he is right. Fried chicken and catfish have become
national staples. Northerners and those in the Midwest can
have their warm oatmeal, but grits (at least until recently)
have been truly a Southern thing.
what are grits? Basically white or yellow corn kernels that
have been (traditionally) ground on a stone mill. The
smallest grains are separated out as corn meal; the coarser
grind are grits.
are made simply: The purist only uses slow-cooking grits
brought to a boil in water and then simmered for about an
hour, until the water is absorbed or evaporated and the
grits are porridge-like.
the modern cooks, or folks like me who want things in a
hurry, there are quick grits that can cook within 15
minutes. Here, the germ and the hull of the corn kernels
have been removed so that the grits cook faster.
yes, there is something called "instant grits" on
supermarket shelves. In this case it means instantly walk
away, do not buy unless truly desperate. I know. I went
through a phase years ago, before I found an alternative,
and bought boxes of this stuff so that I could have hot
grits at my office desk. Convenient, maybe. Tasty, well ....
have learned that when I need a fix and Iím running late
for work, I just duck in to the Lunch Box on Lady Street and
order hot grits to go (usually topped with lots of butter,
bacon and cheese).
... Iím a quick grits girl now. I have learned (and my
sister has schooled me in) the art of making good grits.
can make great grits if you remember the ratio of 1 cup
grits to 3 cups water.
the grits and water and a little bit of salt together in a
large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer
and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until water is absorbed.
Now you have about 4 cups of hot grits.
have, toward the end of the cooking time, whisked in between
a half-cup to whole cup of heavy cream into the grits. Just
to give a little depth of flavor. Some folks like to use
milk rather than water (or in combination) and others use
chicken or vegetable broth.
keep it simple is to enjoy a great, classic Southern dish.
if you want to get creative, letís look at what you can
top the grits with. Simple and classic means nothing but
butter, salt and pepper.
sister and I and then some of my co-workers started talking
and I thought, since grits arenít just for breakfast, why
not offer up some alternative toppings? Not too far out
there; the toppings should still complement the grits, you
know. Then it came to me: What about a grits bar?
for entertaining, with bowls of toppings from simple to
interesting, savory and sweet. Guests can pick and choose or
combine flavors with grits as the centerpiece. So here goes.
strips of crispy bacon
goat cheese (plain or herbed)
or molasses or honey
them up a notch:
red pepper and onion. Thinly slice a red bell pepper and a
medium yellow onion. Place slices of pepper and onion on a
baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until pepper and
onion are soft.
(or collard) chips flavored with sea salt and garlic. Remove
greens from stems and shred to bite-sized pieces. Chop three
cloves of garlic. On a baking sheet, toss greens and garlic
with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt (add red
pepper flakes as an option) and bake in a 400 degree oven
until greens start to crisp (about seven minutes).
tomatoes with garlic and basil. Cut cherry tomatoes in half,
chop garlic. In a saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter with
some olive oil. Add tomatoes and garlic and saute until
garlic is just golden and tomatoes warmed throughout. Add
fresh chopped basil.
and cinnamon (and nuts). Take one Granny Smith apple and
core it and dice. In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of
butter. Add diced apple, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a bit of
nutmeg and a dash of salt. Saute apples until tender.
Optional: Add slivered almonds or toasted pecans for crunch.
and gravy. Saute a half pound of shrimp in 3 tablespoons
butter until shrimp are cooked (turn pink). Remove shrimp
from pan. To make the gravy: Add two anchovies to saute pan
and cook until they melt. Add a half cup of flour to the pan
and stir and cook until flour begins to turn light brown.
Slowly add your liquid of choice (water, milk or wine),
whisking constantly until a gravy forms. The amount of
liquid will depend on how thin or thick you like your gravy.
Finish with 2 tablespoons sherry (NOT cooking sherry, real
sherry from a liquor store). Return shrimp to pan.