It’s no secret that I grew up in South Carolina, okay, yes my parents were yankees, but there are just some things that come with growing up in the southeast. One of those things is that I eat grits, I love them, anytime of the day. However they can’t just be those 15 minute instant kind of grits (truth be told I’m not sure that this is not the true start of the civil war), but real grits, the kind that take time, love, and when done right, just melt in your mouth. Hit the link for more on grits.
Grits are a course ground, corn-based, Native American food that are traditionally stone milled. Grits are a by-product of the production of corn meal, they are the coarser bits of corn that are left after being passed through screens to make the meal. Similar to Polenta, a boiled porridge made from the corn meal, the grit was originally a peasant food that has recently become a main stay in some of the countries most prestigious tables. Your modern store bought dried polenta can be substituted in almost any recipe when grits are called for, they will be closest to yellow grits, not the white grits that come to mind with you think of woman named Flo slopping them on your plate at six o’clock in the morning at a truck stop diner.
Having lived in Charleston, SC, for many years I’ve learned that the Holy City is also effectionatly called the buckle of the grit belt, an area that spans from Texas to Virginia. In Charleston people do take their grits very seriously to say the least. Currently, I’m using the yellow and the white stone ground grits by Charleston Favorites, available at Foodforthesouthernsoul.com, these are a course ground grit from Rockland Plantation. They have a wonderful speckled colouring due to the natural process by which they are milled. The stone-burr milling provides more texture to the grit creating both small and larger pieces, than your mega mart variety, this texture also gives you a rather complex taste in your final dish.
Now I must be honest here, after a few trials I’ve discovered that the recipe for Charleston grits on the back of the Charleston Favorites bag is better than the one I had grown up with. It even works with other lesser brands of grits, but buyer beware, there is nothing like a good quality grit. So, here is their recipe, its wonderful…
Charleston Creamy Grits:
Combine 1 1/4 cups of rinsed grits with 3 cups of boiling water, 2 cups of cream, and 2 cups of milk. Continue to simmer and stir frequently for 20-30 minutes while adding 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 lb. butter. Enjoy!