Are you a shrimp and grits fan? It’s a great Low-Country recipe and has become popular all over the South. But there is a lot more to do with grits than pairing them with the Holy Trinity and shrimp.
Let’s start with grits. Grits are just like coffee; they are better when fresh ground. When you buy grits at the grocery store, how long ago where they ground? Where was the corn grown? You can buy fresh stone ground grits on line (check out Anson Mills), but you can buy Mississippi made, and freshly ground grits, at the Ocean Springs fresh market.
Cooking grits is pretty simple, the better-quality ingredients you use to make it, the more delicious it is. Cook grits, any grits, with just water, and they can be grim. You have just made gruel. Yuck. Use cream, butter and chicken stock, and you can create something of wonder. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and you add a nice spicy element. Use a good melting cheese, Gruyere is perhaps the best, and you take it to a different level all together. White cheddar is also a good choice, smoked gouda, a good Swiss and many more, all with add something different and delicious.
But what are you going to pair grits with? I love them with a over easy egg and smoky bacon. It’s a great, and rather traditional, breakfast. What about fresh beans and peas? By the way, peas and beans are made more delicious if you take your time and cook them in a good stock (start with chicken stock). Fortify the stock
with sautéed ham, maybe a bit of diced red onion, garlic and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and simmer for an hour, then add the peas or beans and slowly simmer until tender.
I also like to make a tureen with grits. Alternate layers of grits with ham, asparagus, and cheese, run it into a hot oven to get everything hot and melted, pop it out of the tureen, allow to set for a bit, then slice for beautiful presentation. This is flexible recipe and consider using braised leek, grilled peppers, collard greens (well drained) a good sage breakfast sausage, or roasted pork. Take a look in the fridge and see what kind of interesting leftovers.
Always remember how important presentation is. If you just plop a big dollop of grits on a plate, it will not be very interesting at all. As soon as the grits are done, pour them into small ramekins, or even muffin molds, allow to cool, then pop them out. You can also brown the grits, once out of the molds, for even better presentation, and, if you use butter, to make them even more delicious.
Basic grits recipe
1 cup fresh ground grits
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup cream
1 cup shredded cheese
1-2 pinch red pepper flakes
Combine ingredients and simmer until done, about 20-30 minutes. If you have an Insta Pot, they will cook in half the time.