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January 14, 2015
Grits Worth Kissin’: Southern Favorite Boasts Universal Appeal
By Janet Tharpe
"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.