Foods | Cooking
Hints & Tips
To a Southerner, eating grits is
practically a religion, and breakfast without grits is unthinkable. A true grit
lover would not consider instant or quick-cooking grits; only long-cooking
stone-ground grits are worth eating. Outside of the southern states, the
reaction to grits is mixed. Grits are served as a side dish for breakfast or dinner and are traditionally
eaten with butter and milk. three-quarters of the grits sold in the United
States are from a belt of coastal states stretching from Louisiana to the
Carolinas, known as the "Grits Belt."
Grits (or hominy) were one of the
first truly American foods, as the Native Americans ate a mush made of
softened corn or maize. In 1584, during their reconnaissance party of what
is now Roanoke, North Carolina, Sir Walter Raleigh and his men met and dined
with the local Indians. Having no language in common, the two groups quickly
resorted to food and drink. One of Raleigh's men, Arthur Barlowe, recorded
notes on the foods of the Indians. He mad a special not of corn, which he
"very white, faire, and well tasted." He
also wrote about being served a boiled corn or hominy.
When the colonists came ashore in
Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, the Indians offered them bowls of this boiled
corn substance. The Indians called it "rockahomine," which was later
shortened to "hominy" by the colonists. The Indians taught the colonists how
to thresh the hulls from dried yellow corn. Corn was a year-round staple and
each tribe called it by a different name.
In the Low Country of South
Carolina and particularly Charleston, shrimp and grits has been considered a
basic breakfast for coastal fishermen and families for decades during the
shrimp season (May through December). Simply called 'breakfast shrimp," the
dish consisted of a pot of grits with shrimp cooked in a little bacon grease
or butter. During the past decade, this dish has been dressed up and taken
out on the town to the fanciest restaurants. Not just for breakfast anymore,
it is also served for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
In 1976, South Carolina declared
grits the official state food:
throughout its history, the South has relished its grits, making them a
symbol of its diet, its customs, its humor, and its hospitality, and
whereas, every community in the State of south Carolina used to be the
site of a grist mill and every local economy in the State used to be
dependent on its product; and whereas, grits has been a part of the life
of every South Carolinian of whatever race, background, gender, and
income; and whereas, grits could very well play a vital role in the
future of not only this State, but also the world, if as The Charleston
News and Courier proclaimed in 1952: 'An inexpensive, simple, and
thoroughly digestible food, [grits] should be made popular throughout
the world. given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would
have nothing to fight about. A man full of [grits] is a man of peace.'
Creamy Grits with Shrimp Recipe:
Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min
1 pound large raw
shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1 cup heavy
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups hot stock (shrimp, chicken, or vegetable)
1/4 cup butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup stone-ground grits**
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 bacon slices
2 tablespoons finely-chopped
2 tablespoons finely-chopped green or red bell pepper
* Add additional flavor: Place the shells of the shrimp in a
saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over low heat
approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain
the broth, discarding shells. Add shrimp broth to hot stock.
** If using quick-cooking grits (not instant, reduce cream to 1/2 cup and
reduce stock to 1 cup.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream,
water, and hot stock; bring to a gentle boil. Add butter
salt, and pepper. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly (so
that the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch),
until all are added; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20
minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful not to scorch
mixture), or until the grits are tender.
should have absorbed all of the liquid and become soft and should have the
same consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick,
add warm stock or water to thin. remove from heat.
Sprinkle shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook
bacon until brown but not crisp. Remove from heat and pat
dry with paper towels; set aside. Coarsely chop bacon when
cool. Reserve 4 tablespoons bacon grease in the frying pan.
Add onion, garlic, and green or red bell pepper; sauté 10
minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add shrimp
mixture and bacon; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp are
opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from heat.
To serve, spoon hot grits onto individual serving plates and
top with shrimp mixture.
Makes 4 servings.
More Grits Recipes:
Grits and Greens
Parmigiano Reggiano Grits Soufflé