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.

  • Comments

  • 1-5 of 36
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    Jane McMillan-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.
  • user
    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!
  • user
    Jane McMillan-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.
  • user
    K Starnes purplehullpea - Mar 1, 2011
    Me and my kids love us some grits. Just don't put anything sweet in them!
  • user
    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!!