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Grits. Grrrrrrrr!


maggiethecat
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This northern lady made her maiden kitchen voyage into that great white grainy mess called grits last night. And she could have used a compass.

Now, I've eaten grits at a Waffle House in Raleigh, (yes, tasty with a runny egg yolk and scraps of bacon ,) with shrimp and redeye gravy (prepared by Malawry, Dave the Cook and guajolote in Varmint's red maze of a kitchen) and twice nibbled (well, gorged) on the apotheosis of grits: Cooled in a sheet pan, brushed with duck fat and sizzled under a broiler. All good, some great!

I have a baggie of grits given to me by one of the best cooks I know, shipped to him from a Varmint -- just heading off the "Did you use instant grits?" questions. I made fried chicken last night (excellent, thank you,) and thought this would be a great opportunity to haul out the Time-Life "Southern Cooking" tome and rustle up some grits. I followed their proportions: 4 cups water, 1 cup grits. Salt. Butter. I stirred, I simmered. No lumps.

I tasted. No taste.

So I added: About four ounces good gruyere and romano. More salt. Much more butter. Tabasco Sauce. Some chicken drippings. I got desperate and tossed in some red pepper flakes.

I tasted. No taste. Maybe a tad better, but not a big difference here. I dutifully ate a glob. He refused to touch them.

Where did I go wrong? Do grits form a white hole through which flavour is sucked to reappear in Sunday's polenta? Help a girl out here.

(I'll fry up the leftovers for lunch; everything's better fried.)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I was raised with a father from Georgia who used to make grits for this WestCoast gal. I've never had "artisinal" grits with cheese - but simple butter and salt.

Yeah, they are pretty tasteless, I think. But when I want mouthfuls of buttery, salty, mush, nothing but grits will do (maybe it is a memory of Dad, too...)

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I think grits are supposed to be a relatively neutral base for pretty much anything. Sure, I put cheese and tabascoesque sauce in mine. But isn't pasta pretty much tasteless? Oddly, few just eat plain pasta.

Rice pie is nice.

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In Boulud's Cafe Boulud book, he has a dish with Cod and Rosemary infused grits. I've made it and the grits definetly have a great flavor. Basically what he does is to add a sprig of rosemary to the milk and grits while they cook.

Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

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I think grits are supposed to be a relatively neutral base for pretty much anything. Sure, I put cheese and tabascoesque sauce in mine. But isn't pasta pretty much tasteless? Oddly, few just eat plain pasta.

Point taken.. But that neutral pasta base would show off the flavour of the cheese, chicken fat, etc. What struck me is how everything got lost!

mjc: Milk? Should I have used milk? I like the infusion idea a lot.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Oh...I guess I didn't read your first post carefully enough. Milk. Please, milk...and possibly a dash of creame.

My mother used an ungodly amount of butter and they were some of the creamiest grits I've ever had. Simply fresh milk and butter. How much butter did you add?

Rice pie is nice.

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Right. Grits are pretty-much tasteless. I think of them as sorta a southern "rice." They are good "alongside." They are good for stabbing your "over easy" or "sunny side up" egg yolk and messing it into. They are good for pouring your redeye gravy over. They are good for grating a bunch of cheese into and baking. They are good for adding salt and pepper and far more butter than you should ever eat at one sitting.

A big bowl of pasta, or rice, etc., with nothing on it is also pretty flavorless.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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How much butter did you add?

Six tablespoons?

As it's (almost ) lunchtime, I've been fooling around a bit with the slab in the fridge. Things may be looking up.

First, I nuked a scrap with some butter and grated cheese. It re (de?)constituted itself into the original glop, but my, it tasted better.

Then I took anouther square, mashed it up with a fork, and added it to an egg I was scrambling. More cheese, pepper, etc. Much better.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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The cardinal rule of grits is "they taste like whatever you put in them." :laugh: My experience has been that you have to overseason/overflavor them to have them turn out right on the first go-round (at least by comparison to rice/couscous/similar starches). They do tend to pick up more taste after they've sat for a while - the problem with that being that you have to do some significant rehydrating at that point or you end up with buttery cement.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Put the leftover grits in a meatloaf pan and refrigerate. Then slice off pieces and fry 'em up in some bacon grease.

Or even butter. They really do make wonderful leftovers, as it appears you've discovered.

Rice pie is nice.

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Grits are definitely the canvas. They're all about texture and mouth-feel.

1. Boil up some greens (mustard, collard, turnip) with a ham hock. Drain 'em and pour on some white wine vinegar. Mix 'em up with the grits and pour the pot likker over everything.

2. Ham, grits, and red-eye gravy! Put butter on 'em!

Congrats on the chicken, maggie! Did you use the buttermilk soak and paper-bag shake method?

Squeat

Edited; for punctuation)

Edited by Squeat Mungry (log)
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They are like nearly every other starch. If you don't have the cooking liquid seasoned, you'll never get it to taste right. They do accept more salt than you'd think.

I like 'em basic with butter, salt, pepper (All in the cooking liquid), and milk (milk is added after cooking, in the bowl, to bring them to the right consistency). Occasionally, a good dose of cheese at the last minute, and usually in a bowl with 2 soft fried eggs to mix in.

And as far as recipes, don't forget Grits & Grillades...

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Maggie, are you comfortable with polenta? If so, then grits should be a piece of cake. The most imporant thing to remember about grits is that I generally don't want them to be the primary flavor carrier. They should be a base upon which you add tasty stuff -- gravies and sauces and melted lusciousness. With that said, the grits themself should have some saltiness, some fat, and some flavor, which you appeared to have tried. It seems, however, that you may have set your sights too high. Try some simple, plain grits that were cooked with just salt and water. Keep them fairly "loose" so they'll spread on the plate when served. NOW drop a schmear of good butter on that and taste. Repeat, but this time, take some of that cheese and grate it on the grits. Try some crumbled bacon, too. You'll start to get the notion of what grits are all about.

From there, start experimenting with different flavors. Roasted garlic adds creaminess and a smooth flavor. It should still be subtle, complementing the feature attraction.

I hope this helps.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Congrats on the chicken, maggie! Did you use the buttermilk soak and paper-bag shake method?

Surely did, Sir!

And Varmint, yes it helps. You've all helped -- thank you. (Dunno --I think polenta has slightly more flavor au naturel; I might need a blindfold taste test.) Now I have to come up with a scheme to reintroduce them to house. Grits souffle, maybe? Something less hard-core than the classic puddle?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Now I have to come up with a scheme to reintroduce them to house. Grits souffle, maybe? Something less hard-core than the classic puddle?

As dessert, maybe? A sweet version with dried or fresh fruit mixed in and cooked along?

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Milk.  Please, milk...and possibly a dash of creame.

My mother used an ungodly amount of butter and they were some of the creamiest grits I've ever had.  Simply fresh milk and butter. 

That's the way I like grits! Or, with cheese. And, for dinner... I don't care about grits for breakfast.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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How are you kids cooking your grits? Are they reconstituted from a box? Try getting a can of hominy, drain it and then whiz it through a food processor, maybe with a touch of milk. Sauté that with some lard/bacon drippings, then add green chile strips and sprinkle dry cheese and cream right before serving. That's my idea of grits.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Am I one of the few who thinks grits do have flavor on their own? Are you all using white or yellow? I never use white, cause they are incredibly bland. But the yellow stone ground are fantastic with just chicken stock, salt and butter.

For a dessert idea you can do a souffle, or even fritters with a blueberry compote and a drizzle of sorghum- yummy! Or I've even done crepes substituting for some of the flour.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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The grits cooked by my teammate for my culinary school final included one special ingredient: cream cheese. Made them ultracreamy, especially since she used cream, butter and chicken stock along with plenty of salt in her recipe. I've made them this way at home and they are heavenly.

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