“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
There has been much debate on grits, the humble food of my Southern childhood. What are they made from…is it corn? Do you butter them or top them off with a little sugar? Instant? Quick? Stone ground? Even the Italians have chimed in, and they call it something completely different…polenta! Whatever the case may be, I know one thing…grits have reached rock star status in the world of food! Today, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of grits…
Growing up in the Deep South, my Mother made a traditional breakfast every morning…home-made biscuits, bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, and you guessed it…grits! But as a child, I would rather scrape the grits off into the garbage can than have to eat them. And even after I married, I prepared them for my grits-loving husband, but still rarely ate them! But through the years I gradually started to love and appreciate the food that all good southerners should love.
Shrimp and grits became one of my favorites on any menu while vacationing along the beaches of the Gulf Coast! And when visiting our good friends Patti and Mike in Raleigh, I always looked forward to Mike’s famous sausage grits…which still receive rave reviews from all their friends and family! I began to see all the well respected chefs in the South slowly adding grits to their menus…no longer a humble breakfast food! It was on dinner menus and not just in the South!
Absolutely no one does grits like my very favorite chef, Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham. His baked grits are foodie heaven and are a mainstay on the menu!
- 4 cups chicken stock (preferably home-made, but store bought is ok)
- I cup of yellow stone-ground grits (organic is best)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Ground pepper to taste
- MUSHROOM RAGOUT
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and halved (you may used dried, just reconstitute with hot water)
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Directions for Grits: In a large heavy saucepan, bring chicken stock and salt to a boil, add grits slowly and cook on low, stirring frequently, until thickened and tender, about 40 minutes. When perfectly done, add butter, Parmigiano, and pepper, stirring until fully combined.
- Directions for the Mushroom Ragout: In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the shallots, garlic, and the shiitake mushrooms. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened and golden, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken stock and thyme sprigs and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and add the heavy cream and heat on low until the cream is warm.
- Serve the grits onto plates, top with the mushroom ragout and crumbled bacon. Serve with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmigiano. Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish. Serves 6.
If you read the recipe carefully you might be wondering why there is no bacon sprinkled on top! I may have eaten it or discovered it on the counter after I had finished photographing. I will let you guess! Either way, I wasn’t going to start all over!
I often serve grits for dinner. They pair beautifully with grilled strip steak, sweet Vidalia onions, and roasted red peppers! To complete the meal…roasted asparagus and rosemary focaccia!
I want to know…how do you like your grits?
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