Grits Worth Kissin’: Southern Favorite Boasts Universal Appeal
By Janet Tharpe


Grits Worth Kissin’: Southern Favorite Boasts Universal Appeal
Julia Carpenter's Grits Breakfast Bake


"No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits!"

Ahem, I beg to differ! This line from the film My Cousin Vinny may have made the legal case for the lead character, but it doesn't hold water in my way of thinking. I also take good-natured issue with the notion that Northerners aren't able to "get" this A.M delicacy. Let's see... Grits are an easy to make, inexpensive corn-based mush that beautifully carry the addition of heaping helpings of butter, cream and any number of cheeses. What's not to love?!

Now grits newbies, I see you shaking your heads... but don't you fret; the Kitchen Crew and I are here to hold your hands as you step over your comfort threshold. In fact, we've recently come across several killer recipes that are the ideal "gateway" into the world of true grits.

Julia Carpenter - a bonafide Texan - combines eggs, smoked sausage, cheese and grits to make an easy-to-prepare breakfast "pie". Since grits are simply coarsely ground corn, the flavors of Julia's pie are similar to that of stuffed cornbread. There's not a thing bland or boring about it.

"I try to cook breakfast for my husband's bank every week or two," explains Julia. "This is their favorite!"

This breakfast bake recipe would compliment any number of ingredients you may have on hand, making it a great breakfast option any day of the week. Try incorporating your own favorite cheeses or toss in that left over ham or steak from last night! Just like cornmeal, grits are a terrific base for carrying an array of bold flavors. (In other words, they're only bland if you allow them to be!)

Now, while Julia is quick to embrace the ease of instant grits in her breakfast recipe, Louisiana cook Debbie Wright insists on the slow-cooking variety for her stellar Grits and Greens Casserole. By adding the greens, another Southern favorite, Debbie has concocted some serious comfort food for the soul.

"Bacon, butter, cream... Where can you go wrong??" Debbie asks jokingly. "This creamy cheesy goodness is good anytime of the year."

And might I venture to add that it's good no matter your zip code? Like cheese-steaks in Philadelphia or pizza in New York, grits are a humble regional dish with the makings of a nationwide favorite.

Virginia-via-New York gal Linda Franklin is the perfect example. She has jumped on the bandwagon thanks to a new-found love of Shrimp and Grits at dinnertime.

"Being from NY, I could not imagine this [ingredient] combo," says Linda. "After one taste out to eat one night, I was sold; [I] may not be Southern but my family loves my Northern version!"

It's just that kind of creative innovation and open mind that elevates grits from mere “mush” to a true family favorite. There is undoubtedly a flavor to suit every palette, so grab a stick of butter and meet me in the kitchen. I sense a culinary movement in the making... and it tastes so good.




36 Comments

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Jane Whittaker janenov46
Mar 1, 2011
Let me see the line about grits was.... In a very Brooklynese accent..I heard about grits, but I never sawr one.

Then the other funny line, among many was the judge (Southerner) asking the lawyer (was Vinney the lawyer) what a yout was. So ya see we all have accents, and depending on where you are from.
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Paul Bushay chefbunyan
Mar 1, 2011
I'm a Southern California raised man, and I had never even heard of grits until I joined the Navy. It looked like Cream of Wheat (Farina) to me, so I loaded em up with mass quantities of butter, cinnamon, raisins, and honey, and loved it!
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Jane Whittaker janenov46
Mar 1, 2011
Well to me grits taste pretty much like you are eating them with, unless you load up on just that butter, and other things.
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K Starnes purplehullpea
Mar 1, 2011
Me and my kids love us some grits. Just don't put anything sweet in them!
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FREDA GABLE cookin4me
Mar 1, 2011
JAP CREW, I have to tell you, I persoally Love this Notebook article. It was Just Perfect Wording.
As for GRITS, Give me a Bowl-ful with Plenty of Butter and salt and pepper and I'm in Heaven. Toss in a few strips of bacon, or even some Sausage, and Oh My. . . goodness. Great choices. Thanks Bunches!!
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Sherrie Belliveau northwoodsgourmet
Mar 1, 2011
As a southern girl who has been transplanted to the cold climes of Wisconsin, grits are not a menu choice here. Luckily the grocery store and organic market carry them. Load them with butter, pepper and cheese!
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Susan Feliciano frenchtutor
Mar 1, 2011
Cheese grits - perfect for a Wisconsin breakfast! Talk to some of your local restaurants and try to get them on the menu.

I think the Breakfast Bake will be my contribution to our next Sunday School class breakfast. In Tennessee, everyone eats grits!
Besides, GRITS stands for ... Girls...Raised...In...The...South!
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Carol Pattee Carol103
Mar 1, 2011
I first had grits when my husband and I were in Williamsburg (sp?). Loved them. A friend gave me a fabulous grits recipe which we love. We live in Oregon and the only grits I can buy are Quick Grits. It's great they are ready in five or six minutes. We had this last night.

GRITS CASSEROLE

5 cups water
1 1/4 cups reg. grits uncooked   (I use quick grits)
1/2 cup chopped onions 
2 small cloves garlic, chopped   (I use 5 or 6 cloves of garlic because I love garlic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup nonfat milk  (or any milk)
1/2 cup frozen egg substitute  (or 2 eggs)
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I use 1 cup of cheese)


Bring water to boil.   Gradually stir in grits, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until thickened, about 10 minutes.  (Because I use quick grits, it doesn't take as long.)  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat.

Combine milk, eggs and gradually stir with a whisk into grits mixture.  Add cheese and stir.

Spoon into an 8 x 8 dish coated with cooking spray.  

Bake 375 degrees until set ... approx. 45 minutes.

Calories per serving  ... 175  (18% from fat)
8 gr. fat per serving

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Leah Stacey CookingMaven
Mar 1, 2011
Debbie's Grits and greens are da bomb! especially with da bacon! ;) I made those for my new years eve greens!
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Debbie wright debbie110772
Mar 1, 2011
I grew up eating grits..anyway ..any how...just gotta have the butter!! Butter makes everything better =)))
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Debbie wright debbie110772
Mar 1, 2011
Love the article..I will be trying the breakfast bake soon!!
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Debbie wright debbie110772
Mar 1, 2011
Thank You Leah!!!
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Gwendolyn Ermlich Letmehelp
Mar 2, 2011
No one yet has posted the correct way to make grits. I'm a Southern girl who grew up with them and married someone from Georgia. You cook the grits in water with some salt, like oatmeal, until thickened. Then you add lots of butter and buttermilk. If you don't have buttermilk you can use buttermilk powder.
That way it is a wonderful side dish with scrambled eggs or when served with Roast Beef in place of mashed potatoes, you can put gravy on it. The buttermilk gives it a sour dough type flavor, Oh yum!
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Dan Hammond Hambone
Mar 2, 2011
Ok...I just checked Debbie's grits and greens and you are right Leah...'da bacon' looks like a great touch! Way to go Debbie! We love grits in our house so next batch, we'll follow your recipe and throw some greens and 'da bacon' in!
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Debbie wright debbie110772
Mar 2, 2011
Thanks Dan!! They are actually fab with or without greens. @ Gwendolyn..never heard of cooking them with buttermilk..maybe my mom or grandmother did i just never knew. I might have to give that a try...Sounds kinda yummy-lish-ous!!