Virginia Willis Blog

Comfort Food: Grits Recipes

 

comfort food stone-ground grits recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Comfort Food: Grits Recipes

I love grits. I wrote a book about grits. I am a Grits Missionary. Grits are ground corn, and like many porridges, the ultimate comfort food. The difference is the kind of grit. If the only grits you have ever had came out of a paper packet and were cooked in a microwave with a coffee cup of water, of course you don’t like grits! Heal thyself with a bowl of good grits, real grits, grits with soul. The key to finding comfort and salvation in a bowl of grits is simple: use whole grain grits that taste like corn; use plenty of liquid to ensure the grains cook until they are smooth; and lastly, slowly cook grits for a long period of time to entice the natural starch from the grains so that they are rich and creamy.  

DSCN0110I’m home in Evans, GA visiting my mother and sister this week. I also taped an episode with my friend Vera Stewart of her cooking show VeryVera that will air March 21 on NBC26. It just so happens that Mama is feeling a bit under the weather. It’s nothing terribly serious, but it’s still my mama and it’s still worrisome. Fast forward to the above mentioned bowl of comfort. My mama has a bowl of cheese and bacon grits every morning for breakfast, pretty much every single morning. This is where I found my love for grits.

comfort food stone-ground grits recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Grits and cornmeal are ground from “dent” corn, a type of corn with low sugar content and a soft, starchy center. It gets its name from the slight dent in the center of the end of the kernel. Although grits and polenta are very similar, Flint corn is the type of corn used for polenta in Italy and gets its name from being “hard as flint.” You can imagine how much I love it when a Food Snob says to me, “I don’t like grits, I only like polenta.”

I guess she likes a to-mah-toe more than she likes to-may-toes, too.

Regardless of being made two types of corn, grits and polenta are almost universally interchangeable. White dent corn produces white grits and yellow dent corn produces yellow grits. (The heirloom red kernels called “Bloody Butcher” seen in the bowl at the top produce yellow grits with red flecks.) Grits are further defined by how they are prepared and ground. There are hominy grits, stone-ground grits, and various grades of commercially ground grits.

  • Hominy is made from corn kernels soaked in an alkaline solution of water and lye to remove the kernel’s outer hull. When hominy is dried and coarsely ground, the result is hominy grits.
  • Stone-ground grits are made from dried whole corn kernels ground between two stones, just as it has been for centuries, which guarantees their corn flavor. The same stone-ground corn can vary in flavor depending on the size of the grind. Stone-ground grits are whole grain, more perishable, and should be refrigerated or frozen. They must also be simmered very slowly for 45 minutes to an hour to coax out their  creamy, comforting texture.
  • In commercially ground grits, the germ and hull are removed to improve the product’s shelf life. Instant grits have the germ and hulls removed and are cooked then the paste is spread in large sheets. They are then dried and reground. They are virtually a pot of starch with no flavor.

What to buy? Check out McEwen and Sons, Anson Mills, Riverview Farms, Red Mule Grits, and Hoppin Johns just to name a few. And, if you don’t have access to whole grain stone-ground grits without ordering online, try Bob’s Red Mill, available in many mainstream and specialty grocery stores.

stone-ground comfort food grits recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Comfort means safety. Comfort means satisfaction. Comfort means simplicity. Comfort means home. Grits are fairly inexpensive, easy to prepare, can be treated as a main meal or a side dish, held for hours on a low stove with little harm (if they get dry, add liquid, and if they get too wet, cook them down a bit) and the leftovers reheat wonderfully, even in the microwave. Grits are undeniably comfort in a bowl and grits, well, they mean home to me.

Here are a few more delicious Comfort Food Grits Recipes for you to sample:

Make sure to take a look at  my events page – I’m kicking off a big tour and will be all over the US in the next few months. Also, please tune into QVC on Sunday as I’m In the Kitchen with David at noon (or thereabouts.)  Lastly, press is staring to come in and folks are liking Lighten Up, Y’all! Check out what  Tasting Table, Serious Eats, and Weight Watchers!

Feel better sweet mama! I love you!!

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia

comfort food: stone-ground grits with bacon and cheese on www.virginiawillis.com

Stone-Ground Grits with Bacon and Cheese
Serves 2

This is hardly a recipe as much as it is a technique. My ratio is 4 cups of liquid to 1 cup of grits. I often use only water, but you can use a combination of water and milk. Honestly, I never use cream. I find it overpowers the taste of the corn. Even so, I know you’re likely looking at the photos of the butter and grits above or the cheese and bacon and thinking, “that so unhealthy!” Here’s the deal: these grits are whole grain and are topped with less than 1/2 ounce of cheese, and only 1 slice of bacon. On my WW plan it’s 9 points, granted not a fruit salad, but it’s rib-sticking goodness. (I had a green salad with poached chicken for lunch to balance out my morning.) I figure a bowl of comfort like this is worth every bite.

2 cups water
1/2 cup stone-ground grits
unsalted butter, optional
1 ounce grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped bacon
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water to a boil over bigh heat. Whisk in the grits and reduce the heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until creamy and thick, about 45 minutes.Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve topped with butter, cheese, and bacon.

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8 Responses to “Comfort Food: Grits Recipes”

    • virginiawillis

      Thanks so much for reading Lee and thanks so much for having me at your table! Best VA

      Reply
  1. There really is nothing like a simple, well-seasoned bowl of grits with butter, cheese, and bacon. I laughed when I read your comment about food snobs who don’t like grits but they like polenta. I was just thinking about that the other day as I was reading about the very minor differences between grits and polenta. I guess when a food is “low-brow” some people can taste it. 🙂

    Reply
  2. evan bernstein

    I never knew you could reheat grits. I thought you could only use them for window and door caulk once they got cold.

    Reply
  3. Virginia….I am soooooooooooooo happy to find all these wonderful grits recipes on your blog…..one of the BEST I have ever eaten was on a Citadel (my husband is a graduate)Homecoming Weekend…in Charleston…it was done with sausage…LOVED it…never had them better since…I do make it with cheese…and lots of it…and my son in particular loves it….Whenever he comes to visit…he asks me to make a “Southern Breakfast” while he is with us…Thank you for posting ….I will enjoy every one of these recipes….and so will my husband….

    Reply

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