Next time you have a dinner party try this. Cook up a pot full of ground corn meal. Mix in some butter, salt and cheese. When your guests ask what it is, tell them it’s polenta. They’ll ooh and aah and compliment you on your international palate.
Then, a few weeks later, do it again. Only this time tell them that it’s grits. If you live outside of the South, you risk their derision. They’ll laugh at you behind your back. Question your pedigree. And quite possibly drop you from the gourmet dinner group.
But polenta and grits are essentially the same thing. Only one has cache. The other doesn’t.
For some reason, grits, more than any other food I know of, carries with it a taint of uneducated, backwoods, redneck miasma. Something the Beverly Hillbillies would’ve served as a side dish to possum friccasse.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve washed down grits with Cristal champagne. I’ve served them with my finest linen, china and sterling silver.
Around here, grits are the rule, not the exception.
Like pasta, rice and boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grits are a palate. Begging for butter, cheese, herbs and savory goodness.
The most common way you see grits served in Middle Tennessee is in a casserole. Every cook worth her Henkel knives has her own recipe.
Here’s mine, before they are cooked:
And here’s the recipe:
3 c water
1 c quick cooking grits (not instant)
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced Rotel tomatos
handful snipped fresh chives or tablespoon dried
1 cup milk (any will do)
paprika, chili powder, cayenne
Bring water to a boil and stir in grits. Cover and cook over very low heat for two minutes. Stir grits and cover, move off heat.
After a couple of minutes, stir grits until smooth.
Add butter and cheese.
Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
Blend grits, cheese and butter.
Add garlic, Rotel and chives… stir
blend eggs into milk
Add to grits
Add salt to taste
Dust top with paprika, chili powder, cayenne
Bake at 350 for approx. 1 hour, or until middle is set.
These grits are especially good with grilled meat, like my shish kabobs…
The moral of the story is this…grits are good. Really, they are. Give them a try.