Debbie Dance Uhrig
This week I’m happy to focus on one of my favorite dishes, grits. Eating grits is quite an enigma for many palates. In past columns I have mentioned that we haven’t educated folks properly on how to enjoy this delicious food. Many times while eating in restaurants I’ve seen runny/loose grits with nothing on top, not even butter. Mistake #1, don’t serve loosey goosey grits. They need some body.
When you present them be sure and educate the guests. If you set down a plain bowl of rice with no accompaniments you too would say, ‘boring’.
Many southerners refer to the grits as the potatoes of the South. When preparing grits cook in chicken stock instead of plain water for better flavor. Add a few spices or vegetables and they will just ‘sing’. Like rice, there are folks who enjoy grits with sugar and cinnamon for a sweet take. Others, like myself, enjoy them with a pat of butter and spices.
This is definitely not where it ends. In the south you would find grillades and grits which would be comparable to Swiss steak in the Midwest served over grits. It’s usually beef, veal or pork in a tomato/vegetable based roux. With grillades the grits are often cheesy. The history of grillades actually goes back to the Louisiana creole styles.
For this cook a country breakfast is complete only when biscuits and grits are present. Grits have been the foundation for many dishes over time. I usually pour milk gravies over mine, but in the south a tomato gravy is more traditional.
Frequently I also bake a pan, allowing it to cool, before cutting it into squares. They can then be fried and served. This is also when I may write an appetizer to sit on top of the grits. Then I adore over easy eggs served on top of a serving of grits.
When preparing grits remember to use a 3 to 1 ratio. Do consider embellishing the grits with vegetables, cheeses and spices. Also adding chicken stock to your boiling water is a great improvement. I remember when I first found a friend who enjoyed grits, it was when I moved to Platte County, Missouri. The Durand Family would frequently invite me over for grits casserole and sloppy joes. Man, did I enjoy Terry’s grits! Now if I can just find more hominy fans.
The origination of the grits came from our Native Americans who prepared a porridge made from cornmeal. Most of us enjoy the standard grit found in the grocery store. However many naturalists prefer to purchase stone ground grits. These are grits ground with a water turned stone. They will retain more natural texture and have a richer flavor. The difference is that the ‘germ’ is still intact. The heart of the kernel, which is a tiny black fleck remains.
Well you certainly got more than you bargained for in this column. It made me so hungry for grits I went and made the recipe for dinner. Have a terrific week and find an excuse to prepare some grits!
Simply Yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
2 bacon slices, cooked & chopped
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups diced American cheese
Cook the bacon in a heavy saucepan until crisp, reserving drippings in the pan. Gradually add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in grits and diced tomatoes; return to a boil; stirring often. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring often, 7-12 minutes. Stir in the cheese; cover and let stand 5 minutes until all the cheese is melted. Stir until blended and serve. I usually use a 1 1/2 quart vegetable oil sprayed baking dish. This will serve 4-5 people.