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And the grit goes on...

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is an act of integrity, and faith."

  (McIlhenny Company)

"Grits fits in with anything."
~ Roy Blount, Jr.

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La Belle Cuisine


Grits Deserve a Better Name!

And the grit goes on...

Apparently we here at La Belle Cuisine, alas, have yet to say enough to satisfy
our readership’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge about grits. We get mail.
For instance:

“Okay, so I am from the north... But, in my search throughout your "belle cuisine" pages, I could not find a recipe for grits. I know this is pretty basic, but what do
you do to make them just right? Not paste, not lumpy cream sauce... Does a simple
mix of instant grits meet the standards of  Commander's Palace, Arnaud's, Du Monde, etc. What is the trick?”

Our response to our visitor from the north:

“Okay. I must admit that I am impressed. You are 'from the north',
and still you are interested in grits!

Surely you have discovered:
Grits Deserve a Better Name!

If I interpret your message correctly, you are not looking for dressed-up grits.
No bells and whistles, right? Just plain ol' everyday Southern grits.
No problem. Just remember that you will need four times as much liquid as
ground grits, i.e. 4 cups liquid to 1 cup grits. We
never use instant grits, but find
no objection to "5-minute" grits. The liquid for plain ol' grits is water, but we
sometimes use a combination of water and chicken broth. Or, if we are looking
for more creaminess, we substitute milk for at least 1/2 of the liquid. Naturally,
salt is required as well, usually 1 teaspoon salt per cup of grits.

 So. That leaves us with:

4 cups liquid (water, broth, or a combination
of water and broth or milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup "5-minute" grits

Bring the liquid to a boil. (You may add 1 tablespoon or so of butter at this point if you wish, but most folks slather their cooked grits with butter. Your call.) SLOWLY whisk the grits into the boiling liquid. Turn the heat down
to medium and cook the grits, whisking at least often, if not constantly,
until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
 Of course, if you are a purist, you may choose to try to locate "real" unprocessed grits, in which case the mixture will require 30 to 40
minutes cooking time."

 ‘The most common way to serve them is smothered with butter and sprinkled
with salt and a dash of pepper along side an eggs, bacon, and buttermilk
breakfast. Most down-home country folk, like my dad, wind up mixing together everything on the plate and using the biscuits to mop it all up.’

Soul Food: Classic
Cuisine from the Deep South

© 1989 by Sheila Ferguson (Grove Press)


As for Commander's Palace, I offer you the grits portion of the
"Grillades and Grits" recipe in

Commander's Kitchen:
Take Home the True Taste
of New Orleans with More
than 150 Recipes from
Commander's Palace Restaurant
by Ty Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
2000, Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.


"2 quarts milk, any kind
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups quick [not instant] grits, any color
2 tablespoons butter

Put the milk in a large pot over medium-high heat and season with salt
and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally and bring careful not
to let the milk boil over or scorch the bottom of the pan. Add the grits,
stir thoroughly to blend with the milk, boil for about 2 minutes, reduce
the heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently until the grits
mixture thickens. Cover, turn off the heat, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Stir in the butter, and adjust salt and pepper."

Ahah! There's the trick..."

And our northern visitor is entirely correct about getting grits
“just right”. According to

Southern Food: At Home,
on the Road, in History

© 1987 by John Egerton, (Alfred A. Knopf)
( University of North Carolina Press in 1993)

”Consistency is important; grits should spoon from the pot as thick as a heavy porridge – not runny enough to spread across the plate, and not firm enough
to hold shape.” Mr. Egerton continues, “Unseasoned grits are rather bland
and tasteless; they need butter and salt or gravy to attain excellence.”

Amen, Brother John!

 And here, dear reader, also from 'Southern Food,' is the most excellent
ode to grits I have yet to discover:

 “Song to Grits

When my mind’s unsettled,
When I don’t feel spruce,
When my nerves get frazzled,
When my flesh gets loose –

What knits
Me back together’s grits.

Grits with gravy,
Grits with cheese,
Grits with bacon,
Grits with peas,
Grits with a minimum
Of two over-medium eggs mixed in ‘em: um!

 Grits, grits, it’s
Grits I sing -
Grits fits
In with anything.

Rich and poor, black and white,
Lutheran and Campbellite,
Jews and Southern Jesuits,
All acknowledge buttered grits.

Give me two hands, give me my wits,
Give me forty pounds of grits.

Grits at taps, grits at reveille.
I am into grits real heavily.

True grits,
More grits,
Fish, grits and collards.
Life is good where grits are swallered.


~ Roy Blount, Jr., ‘One Fell Soup, 1982
as quoted in ‘Southern Food’

Far be it from us to expound further on grits without
consulting Craig Claiborne...

Grits Are (or Is) Good
Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking icon
© 1987 by Clamshell Productions Ltd.
(Times Books, a division of Random House)

“As a child of the South (and one who has not infrequently been described as
having cornmeal mush in his mouth), I feel notably secure in stating that grits,
that celebrated Southern cereal, constitutes a plural noun. I staunchly defend
this opinion, but I do feel moved to give the opposition a moment of self-defense.
A fellow Mississippian, who shall go nameless, has written to me as follows:
‘I wonder whether you have quietly fallen victim of a Yankee malaise, one that causes even editors of dictionaries, alas, to refer to grits as a plural noun. Never mind what these Yankee dictionaries say, come back home where grits is IT, not them. Do Yankees refer to those oatmeal? Does one eat one grit or many? Isn’t it supposed, at least by tradition, to be a singularly singular noun? Please say it’s so.
’I remember, growing up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, laughing with smirking pleasure over Yankees’ references to grits as ‘them’ and ‘those.’ I do not recall whether any of them referred to the finer-ground cousin of grits, cornmeal, as
‘them’ or ‘those’ cornmeal, but maybe I was not listening.
’Until I hear better, I am going to assume that you remain well, and the dictionary usage for grits was insinuated (or were insinuated) into your otherwise impeccable article by some scurrilous (Yankee) copy editor.
’P.S.: Now, repeat after me: ‘I like grits. It is good. I eat it (not them) whenever possible.’ “

 [Ed. Note: Cajuns (as well as other New Orleanians) have the answer. They refer
to this quintessential Southern fare as “dem grit”. As in, “How y’all lak dem grit?”
So. The next time you make groceries, cher, be sure to git you some.

Craig Claiborne’s Grits Casserole

Yield: 8 servings

1 quart [4 cups] milk
1/2 cup [1 stick]  plus 1/3 cup butter
1 cup regular grits [if you can still find them!]
1 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Bring the milk just to the boil in a heatproof casserole and add 1/2
cup [1 stick] butter. Stir in the grits and continue to cook until it is
the consistency of cereal.
3. Remove from the stove and add salt and pepper. Beat with an
electric beater and add the remaining 1/3 cup butter. [!!!]
4. Stir in the Gruyère until melted. Sprinkle Parmesan on top. Place
in the oven and bake 1 hour, or until crusty on top.

More grits recipes:
Grits Deserve a Better Name!
Creamy Grits with Cheddar and Parmesan
Margaret's Decadently Creamy Cheese Grits
Garlic Grits
Nassau Grits
Sausage Cheese Grits
Sausage and Grits Frittata
Mamete's Grillades and Grits

Notes from a Southern Expatriate,
with Recipes

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