As the title above would imply, I'ma tell y'all a little bit about grits today. 'Cause I find that when I attempt to serve a grit to a non-Southerner, the first thing he or she wants to know is, well, WHAT IS THIS?
A grit is a teenytiny grain of ground, dried, hulled corn, usually white corn. Basically it's a course-ground white corn meal. Preparing grits is simply a matter of boiling up a whole mess of these little teeny grains in plenty of liquid. Most package directions'll say water, but well, that's not exactly right. If you want to make grits so they're really truly good'n creamy, you need to use some milk, too. Mebbe half the liquid should be milk, mebbe more. And, much like rice, for a really neat and interesting flavor boost, you can even use a nice rich chicken stock for the liquid as well. Bonus vitamins!
Southerners eat grits with a little red eye gravy*, butter, CHEESE, salt-n-pepper, hot sauce, you name it. Traditionally a breakfast favorite, grits find their way to the Southern table round the clock these days. 'Cause we can't get enough of them, frankly, and also thanks to the fact that they can be dressed up or down, served all fancied up or plain and simple, creamy and spoonable, baked or even fried polenta-style.
Got it? Ground corn + liquid / Boil until soft and creamy = Good ol' fashioned grits. From there, the sky's the limit, as it were.
Now I'll give you some recipes. (Edited to say, Okay just A Recipe this time.)
My Shrimp and Grits
(If you don't care for shrimp and/or you don't care for grits, make this, and it will completely alleviate both those problems, I promise.)
2 cups of your favorite smoked pork product - Diced ham, smoked sausage, or maybe 6-8 or well, 10-12 slices of bacon (I'm easy. I'll even let you use turkey ham or turkey smoked sausage if you want. I've done it myself and come to no harm at all!)
2 onions, cut into rings
1 red pepper, cut in strips
1 green pepper, cut in strips
2-3 goodly sized garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine or beer
1 lb. of peeled, deveined shrimp (Whatever size you prefer, I like mine on the medium/largish side)
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
4 to 6 cups grits prepared according to package directions, except substituting milk for at least half of the water
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Place peeled, deveined shrimp in a collander in the sink and sprinkle with garlic salt and cayenne or red pepper flakes. Toss with fingers to coat. Leave in sink to drain and marinate.
In a large skillet or dutch oven, render fat off meat and cook until meat begins to brown nicely. Remove meat onto paper towels and reserve. Drain pan if necessary or add olive oil to leave 3 tablespoons or so of hot fat in your pan. Add onions, peppers and garlic to fat and saute until veggies are getting tender and the kitchen is starting to smell like you imagine heaven to smell. Add about 1/2 cup of wine, beer or stock and stir/scrape in the pan until the browned meat bits are loosened and begin to darken up the liquids. Now we're gettin' somewhere. Let the liquid reduce a little, maybe for a couple of minutes. Toss in your shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become pretty, pink and opaque and they curl up. Toss your meat back in to heat through.
In cooking the grits, just wait until they are thickened and soft and then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until its melted evenly and the grits are yellow/orange.
To serve, spoon grits into individual shallow bowls. Top with shrimp and veggie mixture and a little spoonful of the pan drippings kinda drizzled over the top.
Do not neglect to include those pan drippings, people, they are liquid gold!
Well, I had a couple other recipes to tell you about but they'll have to wait until tomorrow because I'm all outta time. And I'm hungry now, too.
*What's Red-Eye Gravy? Quite simple. You fry a hamsteak or some minced ham or even some smoked sausage in a pan. Remove the meat to your plate, preferably beside a fried egg or two. Then you pour a little water into the pan you cooked the meat in and stir up all the browned bits from the bottom (maybe 1/2 cup). Then you pour in some coffee. Yes I said coffee. Maybe another 1/2 cup. Turn up the heat until it boils and let it reduce about a minute. Serve over hot grits. YUM!