Grits, The Tough Stuff – Part 1

I have met folks who claim they do not care for grits and I just know they have never tried them.  Happily it is not my job to convert these masses into appreciators.  I know that grits are associated with the southern states and that alone can put some Yankees off.  If you have never tried a well prepared creme brulee, or tasted pistachio nuts from Turkey then we will have a discussion.  But grits?  I’m not compelled to change your mind if you prefer to look the other way.  That’s fine, stop reading – see you on the next post.

Those of you who remain have tried grits, hopefully with eggs (over easy) at breakfast.  If cooked properly they are a delight.  Breakfast is my favorite meal any time of the day, and any additional offering on the buffet is welcome.

I must confess, I am a yearling in the forest of preparing grits.  Let me begin by saying that grits can take it.  If you stay close by to stir and taste they will come out beautifully for you.  Any dried grains can be tricky because of the starch, but a pot of grits will take just about all of the water and heat you can throw at it.  Too thick?  Add water.  Too thin?  Keep the lid off and stir occasionally.  Do ahead?  Oh yeah, they get better after they’ve sat awhile.  Be prepared, if you under cook them and serve them to a grit virgin they will never return.  Crunchy grits?  Thank you, no.

The water-to-grits ratio is usually 4 to 1, so one cup of grits will need four cups of water.  I always make this much, I promise – you’ll love the leftovers.

Put the water in a pan, add the grits, stir and put that flame on!  Bring the water to a boil and stir again, don’t let those grains stick to the bottom.  I like to add some salt to the water as they cook.  When the water comes to a boil lower the flame to a simmer and put a lid on.  Be sure to stir occasionally and taste for texture as you go.  Most recipes call for some cream to be added, and that helps make them well, creamy in texture.  A little goes a long way though and I always add the cream near the end of cooking (I use half-and-half because it’s always in the fridge).  Mix, taste, add more if necessary.  I use the cream for the texture, not for the flavor.

Grits want salt.  Sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Done.  If you’re adding cheese at the end you won’t need as much salt on the front end- but always salt the water when they’re cooking.

What To Do?

Somehow our good friend Cathy Thomas always zeroes in on the perfect gift to get us during the holidays.  One year it was this wonderful book and a bag of grits.

grits book

This book will give you plenty of ideas outside of the standard breakfast side. Be adventurous!

In Parts 2 and 3 I’ll share my favorite recipes with you and we’ll chat about the different types of grits, and where you can get them.  Until then…  ~TH~

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