For the last few weeks we have been talking about how to feed your family economically while not skimping on quality or flavor. It is a difficult time to be sure, but spending some time in the kitchen being creative, just might help you feel a little bit better.
One of my favorite go-to foods for comfort and economy is yellow stone ground grits. Anson Mills makes some very good grits, but I buy Original Grit Girl grits at the Ocean Springs Saturday morning Fresh Market. But your favorite brand of yellow grits from the grocery store will do just fine as well.
Here is my basic grit recipe.
- 2 cups chicken stock (home made is best)
- ½ cup heavy cream (or half and half)
- 1 cup Grit Girl grits
- Optional 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Combine the stock and cream, whisk in the grits, season well, and simmer and cook until tender. If you want to add cheese, add the cheese 10 minutes after you start cooking them. If you have to add additional liquid, make sure it is simmering hot. Adding cold liquid to the cooking grits stops the cooking process and will take a lot more time to get done. I like to pour cooked grits into muffin molds to form small cakes, it makes for much better presentation, but if you like to just pour a ladle full onto the center of a plate or even in a cup, that’s just fine.
Grits will take on the flavor of just about anything that you care to pair them with. Shrimp and grits are delicious, easy to make, and for those of us who live on the Coast, fairly inexpensive. Take advantage of them! To make the shrimp go even further, cut them into bite sizes. Season shrimp with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, sauté quickly in a hot pan, remove and set aside. In the same pan, add onions, bell pepper, and celery, season again, and sauté in oil for 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute or more. Add a glass of white wine and reduce by half. Add a cup or two of diced fresh tomatoes, or whole canned tomatoes, well drained, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and serve with grit cakes.
Here are a few more suggestions. Add crispy cooked bacon to grits and serve with a sunny side egg on top. Add diced and browned sausage, Conecuh is my favorite, along with a little cheddar cheese for a cheesy treat. I love grits topped with collard greens that have been cooked in a good ham stock!
You can top grit cakes with just about any sauce you would put on pasta, and it is delicious. I love grits with a good meaty bolognese sauce or even a fresh red sauce made with diced tomatoes. don’t forget to garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Another trick that is simple but sure does make a difference, is to sauté grit cakes in butter until well browned and a nice crust has formed. I find them absolutely irresistible, especially with cheese grits.
Hang in there, friends. This too shall pass.