What are Grits, Exactly??

This is a frequently asked question at my restaurants in Baltimore, so frequently in fact, I have decided to explain what they’re all about and disseminate the information for you once and for all…

Many true Southerners will tell you they have adored grits since birth. They don’t remember the first time they ate them, because it was probably around the time they learned to walk, if not before.  If you happen to be a Northerner, then a past experience with grits might have left you wondering what all the fuss was about. Surely those bland and tasteless grits one gets at the supermarkets can’t be what everyone raves about?!

For arguments sake, let us assume grits are merely ground corn. This sounds simple enough, but there’s more to it.

There are a number of methods applied to arrive at a ground corn product. Some bleach the corn by soaking it in a solution designed to remove the hulls. Others soak the corn in Lye to puff it before allowing it to dry. No matter the method chosen here, one first makes hominy and then grinds them into grits. These are the instant grits found on supermarket shelves and why you may have not been impressed with grits your first go-around. They are chocked full of preservatives which replace the nutrients lost during the hulling process. They are then ground super fine and lack the character of a true grit.

At the other end of the spectrum are those of us who strive to preserve the integrity of the grit. My friend John Martin Taylor (aka Hoppin’ John) spent months looking for a mill that could consistently provide coarse-ground, whole-grain grits with the taste and character of freshly ground corn. These grits omit the “puffing step” so there is no hominy, just freshly ground corn. These are the grits we serve at my restaurants.

From a historical perspective, grits can provide us with insight into the dichotomy of the Low Country. There was no middle class. You had the simple plantation home on the river or the magnificent home in town. You fished or you shopped. You entertained or you served. While this balance of low and high distinguishes the Low Country, so too does it distinguish grits. The same humble grit we eat at breakfast can become larger-than-life in a dish like our Carolina Shrimp & Grits.

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At Langermann’s we have the pleasure of serving them our way so you too can experience the mighty grit in its true nature. From the mountains of Georgia, to our kitchen, to your plate, ENJOY!

Here’s one of my personal and favorite recipes which shows just how amazing and versatile grits can be…

Ma’s Meatballs in Marinara over Creamy Grits

Meatballs

  • 5 pounds ground beef
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces chopped parsley
  • 3 ounces chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons salt and pepper mix
  • 4 ounces cold water
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  1. In a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients and mix on low speed until ingredients are fully distributed evenly.
  2. Prepare the meatballs 3 oz each.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  4. Place the meatballs in the simmering Marinara sauce.
  5. Serve in a bowl over the creamy grits.

Creamy Grits

  • 1 QUART OF WHOLE MILK
  • 4 OUNCES SOFTENED BUTTER
  • 1 CUP STONE MILLED GRITS (TRY NOT TO USE INSTANT)

1 TEASPOON SALT

  1. COMBINE MILK, BUTTER, AND SALT IN A SMALL SAUCE POT. BRING TO A BOIL.
  2. ADD GRITS AND STIR FOR TWENTY SECONDS.  ALLOW MIXTURE TO BOIL FOR ANOTHER TWENTY.
  3. REDUCE HEAT TO A SIMMER AND STIR UNTIL GRITS ARE DESIRED CONSISTENCY.

Marinara Sauce

  • 3/4 cup blend olive oil
  • 4 ounces chopped garlic
  • 3 pounds julienned yellow onions
  • 1 bunch celery diced
  • 1 pound sliced carrot
  • 2 cans 74-40 tomato filet
  • 2 cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Italian seasonings
  1. In the large rondo heat the olive oil, add celery, carrots, and onions.
  2. Cook until vegetables are tender, add garlic.
  3. Stir for one minute then add remaining ingredients.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Blend using the hand-held wand.
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