Julianne wrote a post about some of the very odd foods Southerners eat. And for the most part I have to agree. They eat some weird stuff down there. I have a friend from South Carolina who won't touch meat but eats fried liver like it is the greatest food ever known to man. The thought of eating liver, or any other internal part of an animal, makes me gag. But I have to disagree with Julianne about the grits. I too wouldn't eat them for many years. And then I saw a recipe for savory grits and breakfast as I knew it changed forever.
To start with I always look for regular grits, not the quick grits sold in most stores. And even better yet, we have a wonderful organics store that sells Italian grits, also known as polenta grits. Unlike the white grits you find in the Southern United States these are yellow and denser and oh so flavorful.
Cook a batch and then try some amazing toppings. My family loves grits with cheese and Old Bay (Old Bay is a Maryland thing) for breakfast. If we have leftover fish or meat from the night before it makes a great topping. But don't stop at breakfast. Grits with some sauteed vegetables on top and a fried egg on the side is a quick and comforting dinner on a rainy day.
Here is my super easy but absolutely perfect directions for cooking grits, Northern style.
1. Bring 4 cups water to rapid boil. Add a pinch or two of salt. Then, stirring constantly, pour in 1 cup grits in a slow but steady stream. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally until the grits are thickened and all the water is absorbed. Turn off heat. Drop a stick of butter on top of grits and cover again. Let this sit while you finish preparing the remainder of the meal.
2. When the butter is melted stir it in well. At this point we stir in some ground chipotle pepper or Old Bay Seasoning. Grits will be a little too thick now. This is the good part. Stir in some cream or half and half until you have a beautiful texture. You can use regular milk if you'd like but why spoil something so good by trying to reduce the fat?
3. And then lots of cheese. Sharp cheddar, Monterrey jack, blue cheese, Parmesan Asiago or a combination of any of those would be delicious. Let your imagination carry you away into deliciousness.
But if you want something a little more special saute some Italian sausage, peppers and onions and top the grits.
Or... grill some shrimp to add to the top.
Or... top with some lump crab meat, leftover steak, black beans... The possibilities are really endless if you are willing to dig in your fridge for a few minutes.
When you are done you can tell me how you don't know how you ever lived without grits.
all photos courtesy of google images