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Deep in the South, grits are whats for breakfast, dinner and supper!

If you're a true Southern cook you already have a container of bacon grease on your stove. I use olive oil because it's heart healthy. If you want to make cornbread like my granmomma made it, use bacon drippings. Either way, git it ready - you'll need it to git started along with sweet ice tea, several iron skillets, lots o' gravy ('specially Red Eye). You should also know how to cook grits! Grits, similar to polenta, is served up with cheese, onion, and garlic. Grits are great with shrimp, sausage, or just plain with butter.

Southern Grits

Ingredients:

2 cups water
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking grits, not instant
1/2 cup butter


In a medium pot, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly stir grits into boiling mixture. Stir continuously and thoroughly until grits are well mixed. Let the pot return to a boil, cover pot with a lid, lower the temperature, and cook over low heat anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, or more, depending on the coarseness of the grind, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary. Grits are done when they have the consistency of smooth cream of wheat. Stir in half the butter and when the grits are soft, add more butter and serve. Don't forget the salt and pepper on top.....yummm!!

History of Grits

Grits are an integral part of our food history. For nearly four hundred years, families have been enjoying this delicious food. Grits date as far back as 1607, when the colonists came ashore at Jamestown, Virginia. They were met by friendly Native Americans offering steaming hot bowls of "rockahominie," which was softened maize seasoned with salt and animal fat. It was here that our passion for grits was born.

Throughout the years, grits have developed into a comfort food that many families enjoy not only for breakfast, but as a delicious side dish for meals as well. Known as the "Southern oatmeal" before air conditioning was invented; grits were preferred over oatmeal because they could withstand the heat and humidity found in the South.

Grits have also been credited with getting many Southern families through the Depression Era of the 1930's. Since grits were plentiful and inexpensive, they were a blessing during this bleak time in America's history.

As times have changed, grits have evolved from a regional food often used for survival to a food of choice and comfort in many American homes. Their convenience and delicious taste have made them a favorite for busy moms and their children. Grits have also gone upscale, being featured on menus in many five-star restaurants throughout the country.

The word grits comes from the Old English. "grytt", for "bran", but the Old English "greot" also meant something ground. Some cookbooks refer to grits as hominy because of regional preference for the name. Americans have been using the term "grits" since at least the end of the 18th century. Dont forgit G.R.I.T.S. means (Girls Raised In The South)!...lol


What are Grits

Hominy grits, or just plain grits, are an institution here in the South, though they can be hard to find in northern states. Hominy is made from flint or dent corn,varieties with hard kernels that are dried on the cob then removed and soaked in a solution of baking soda, lime, or wood ash. This process causes the hulls to soften and swell. The kernels are then hulled and degermed using friction, then dried. Grits, coarse whitish grains, are ground from hominy, as is masa harina, the flour used to make corn tortillas. (granny sais they grow on trees!)



Ham and Red Eye Gravy

Ingredients:

1 (3-pound) country ham, store bought, sliced
2 tablespoons fat from the ham
1/2 cup coffee
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 beef bouillon cube (optional)
Grits, recipe above

Heat iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fat from the ham and render. When the fat is rendered, add the ham steaks and pan-fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove the ham from the pan and set aside on a plate and keep warm. To the pan, add the coffee and water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and the bouillon cube and stir to incorporate. Serve the gravy over the ham steaks on grits.

Two-Cheese Grits

Ingredients:

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Pepper to taste


How to Make It
Bring water and salt to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan. Whisk in grits; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, and stir in Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and butter. Sprinkle with pepper to taste.



Grits & Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
1 cup yellow whole-grain cornmeal
2 strips bacon
2 red and/or orange bell peppers, seeded and sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon hot cayenne pepper sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


How to Make It

Make grits: In a large pan, bring milk, 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking, until no lumps are visible. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring and scraping pan every 10 minutes, until tender, 35 minutes. Uncover; cook 5 minutes longer, stirring.

While grits cook, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning, until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Let cool; crumble.

Add bell peppers, white parts of scallions, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet with bacon fat. Sauté until bell peppers are crisp-tender, 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp, pepper sauce and 1/2 cup water. Sauté until shrimp turn almost opaque, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Remove grits from heat; stir in cheese. Divide among 4 bowls; top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with bacon and scallion greens.




Cheesey Bacon Grits & Collard Greens

Ingredients:

Grits:
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
salt & black pepper
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 cup grated smoked Gouda
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Butter, to finish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Collard Greens:
1 large bundle collard greens, wash well
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablesppon of crushed red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves, minced
salt & freshly ground stock

For the Grits:

Add the bacon to medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until some of the fat is rendered. Add the onion and saute until tender and the bacon is cooked and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, milk, and salt and pepper, to taste, and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, gradually add the grits in a low steady stream, whisking continually. Reduce the heat to low and stir frequently until the liquid is almost absorbed and the grits are thick, about 10 minutes.

Add the smoked Gouda, whisking all the while to melt the cheese. Stir in heavy cream and butter. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately with the Collard Greens.

For the Collard Greens:

Remove and discard the tough stems and center ribs of the collard greens. Stack the leaves and roll tightly into a cylinder. Thinly slice the collards into ribbons about 1/16th of an inch thick. Repeat with any remaining collard greens.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the collard greens, toss quickly with tongs, and saute until bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the chicken stock and cook until the liquid evaporates, another 2 minutes. Serve immediately with the Grits.



Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Grits
This Southern side dish goes well with fried chicken or grilled pork.


Ingredients:

4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup quick-cooking grits
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup plus another 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (2.5 ounces)

Directions

In a medium saucepan, cook bacon and jalapeno (optional) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon and jalapeno (if using) to a small bowl. Remove pan from heat and carefully add 4 1/2 cups water.

Bring liquid to a boil over high and whisk in grits. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer,
stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, 25 minutes or until creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in 1 cup grated cheddar and three-fourths the bacon mixture. Pour into a 2-quart serving dish and top with remaining cheddar and remaining bacon mixture


Bacon & Pimento Cheese Grits

Ingredients:

5 slices bacon
1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup half-and-half
Two 4-ounce jars diced pimientos, drained
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove it to a paper towel-lined plate. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the grits and salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and cook until the grits are tender and creamy, about 20 more minutes. Add the pimientos, cream cheese, Cheddar and mustard and stir until melted together and combined. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the grits. Stir in the pepper and serve. If making ahead, allow the dish to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat, covered in foil, at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until heated through.


Ham and Cheese Grits Casserole

Ingredients:

1 carton (32 oz) Progresso™ chicken broth (4 cups)
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking grits
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
2 cups chopped ham
1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
3 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In 4-quart saucepan, heat broth, milk and pepper to boiling. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and no lumps remain. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese until melted. Stir in ham, 1/2 cup green onions and the eggs; transfer to baking dish.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until center is set. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons green onions before serving.


Grits Dictionary

Grits can be very different, depending on whether they're
ground at a gristmill or purchased at the supermarket. Use this guide to
grits to help you with the different choices.

Whole-ground or stone-ground grits: These grits are a coarse grind. You’ll find stone-ground grits at gristmill gift shops and specialty food stores.

Hominy: Dried white or yellow corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed. It’s sold dried or ready-to-eat in cans. When dried hominy is ground, it’s called hominy grits. Grits are available in three grinds—fine, medium, and coarse.

Quick and regular grits: The only difference between these types is in granulation. Quick grits are ground fine and cook in 5 minutes; regular grits are medium grind and cook in 10 minutes.

Instant grits: These fine-textured grits have been precooked and dehydrated. To prepare them, simply add boiling water



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