How do I delicately say this–without offending Dad? It’s quite awkward, because the guy is a great cook. However, everyone has an Achilles’ heel. Well… his grits might be one of the few dishes with few good memories. Who knows what went wrong. They weren’t creamy. The texture was mostly watery. I only liked them with tons of cheese to hide the taste.
Imagine my surprise, when grits became a trendy ingredient along with the raise of southern cuisine a few years ago. I initially avoided grits on menus, and wondered why any chef would serve them. Over time, I decided to give grits another try to discover a soft, creamy taste. Humbled and in love with my first true taste of properly cooked grits, I wanted to learn the proper technique to cooking them.
The ‘how-to’ cook grits came from Chef Edna Lewis and her assistant, Scott Peacock. It’s 2 cups of water or chicken stock plus 2 cups of whole milk to 1 cup of grits. After the grits are tender and creamy, swirl in a dash of organic cream. The cheese is optional. However, did I mention the most common mistake to making grits? Using instant or quick cooking grits. Don’t buy them. Walk pass them. Avoid looking at them. Just don’t do it.
Stone-ground grits are usually well hidden in most grocery stores. Either look hard or ask for help.* Once home, slowly cook them, because they become softer over time. If there’s no time, plan ahead to cook them in slow cooker (the ‘how-to’ is here).
About the popular shrimp and grits served in most Southern restaurants… as mentioned before, it was love at first bite. Even people who don’t like to cook, learn the recipe to make it at home. Besides pancakes, it’s become one of my favorite weekend breakfast meals.
This version of creamy, cheesy grits is sans sauté shrimp. The inspiration is from The View from Great Island. The writer, Sue, creates a savory brussel sprout and mushroom dish with polenta. In this version, American-made yellow grits replaces the Italian polenta.** I also roasted brussel sprouts, but this recipe has a touch of diced fennel and onions. The end result is a delicious dish, and when chop sausage is pile on top—it’s ‘meat on your bones’ good.
Lewis mentioned people “…should really leave grits alone…” I’m sure Dad agrees. After all, he believes cornbread isn’t supposed to have sugar in it, too. However, I’m a few generations away from the South. As a newly minted, fancy Yankee, my bowl of grits need milk, cream, salt and pepper and always cheese. It’s how I’m creating my own good memories.
*Don’t look too far for stone-ground grits, because Trader Joe sells them in the cereal asile.
**To learn more about the difference between yellow, white, instant, and stone-ground grits, click here.