Fresh ground coffee is better, right? Same goes for pepper, Parmigiano Reggiano and a host of other things. If you buy something pre-ground at the grocery, how long ago was it ground? The answer is simple, there is no way to know.
If you are a grits fan, listen up. You can buy fresh ground grits at the Saturday morning fresh market in Ocean Springs (make sure to tell Robert I sent you). I have known Georgeann Ross, the owner of the Original GritGirl, for years and can vouch for the amazing stone ground grits, polenta, corn meal and masa that she produces, as can the more than one hundred chefs, from New York City to San Francisco, that line up for her products. You will find her grits at Vestige in Ocean Springs, several of the casinos, and White Pillars in Biloxi.
Georgeann buys corn from a farmer’s co-opt in Houston, Mississippi, grinds them fresh and ships the next day. Freshness is what makes the difference. There is also a great recipe on the bags for each type of grind. The grits are the best I have ever had, and the cornbread I make with her corn meal is just amazing. Same goes for the polenta.
So, what’s the difference between polenta and grits? I used to say it was the price. If you call it polenta, you can charge more for it. Georgeann assures me there is a difference in the grind, and she should know, she is one of the only female master millers in the USA.
Occasionally, I run into someone who says they don’t like grits. Usually that means all they have ever had is white grits. I abhor white grits, and I’ll make no excuses from white grits served un-seasoned and with nothing but a tab of butter. They are a miserable excuse for really good, fresh, stone ground grits (it is a deeply held prejudice). Store bought yellow grits, that are not properly seasoned can be pretty bad, but, please, try the recipe ideas below, and you will almost certainly change your mind.