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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grits, It's a Southern thang!

They say G.R.I.T.S stands for "Girls Raised In The South". I'm definitely a G.R.I.T.S. girl! And I love eating grits. Grits are coarsely ground dried corn. If you grind it finely, it is corn meal. But coarsely ground corn is grits. The Indians were the ones to introduce grits to the first settlers. They called them "rockahomine". Hominy is different from Hominy Grits. Hominy is a certain dried corn that is soaked in lye until it swells and softens. Grits is ground dried corn and it is not soaked in lye. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh tasted grits made by the Indians. In 1607, the Jamestown settlers became acquainted with the Indian "rockahomine". During the War of Northern Aggression and during the resulting Reconstruction Period, the South was so poor and burnt out that many subsisted on grits, cornbread made from cornmeal and whatever else they could find to eat, including wild greens like Creasy greens, Poke salad, Dandelion greens, etc.. So Southern families became well acquainted with grits. In 1976, grits became the official state food for SC. The grits belt goes from the Carolinas down to Louisiana. People outside that area can't understand why we love them but it might be because they've never had them the way we like them. If you make grits without salt and butter, then they are bland and terrible. A lot of restaurants make them bland in case they have people who can't have salt. But the first thing I do is taste them and then I add the salt and butter that I desire. It is such a comfort food.

Grits

1 cup grits
2 cups boiling water
salt and pepper to taste
butter to taste

Bring salted water to boil, add grits. Turn heat down and stir it regularly and keep a watch on it. Once it's simmered down to the consistency you desire, remove from heat. Add pepper and butter.

Variations:
Remove cooked grits from heat and stir in some shredded cheddar cheese.

Once you put the grits in boiling water, turn down the heat, stir and let it cook until it's mostly done. Take an egg and scramble, then add to the grits and let if finish cooking. You can do this in the microwave to give you a fast breakfast.

Serve with sausage gravy or Red Eye gravy. (Red Eye gravy is made from the grease left over after frying country ham with coffee added to it to give it it's "red eye".

Add milk to make grits creamier.

Add a clove of chopped garlic to cheese grits.

Once grits have gotten cold they are hard. You throw away the hard grits unless you want to fry them. You cut the hard grits in pieces and coat with scrambled egg, dredge in corn meal (or flour) and fry in butter in a hot iron skillet. Drain on paper towel and serve with a poached egg on top.


Shrimp and Grits

2 to 3 slices bacon
grits, for 4 to 6 people
1 to 1 1/2 pounds shrimp
1 small onion, finely minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes with juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

Cook 2-3 slices bacon until done but still tender, set aside. Prepare grits per directions, adding a small finely minced onion before starting cook time, clean shrimp, when grits are almost done, chop shrimp into halfs, crumble up bacon and toss both into grits. Continue cooking until grits are ready. Add crushed tomatoes (juice and all), then add hot pepper.


Chef Bill Smith's Shrimp and Grits

2 cups water object
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth object
3/4 cup half-and-half object
3/4 teaspoon salt object
1 cup regular grits object
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese object
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese object
2 tablespoons butter object
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce object
1/4 teaspoon white pepper object
3 bacon slices object
1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined object
1/4 teaspoon black pepper object
1/8 teaspoon salt object
1/4 cup all-purpose flour object
1 cup sliced mushrooms object
1/2 cup chopped green onions object
2 garlic cloves, minced object
1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth object
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice object
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce object
Lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour.

Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.

Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon; serve with lemon wedges.

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