Grits and Cousin Vinny

 

Grits and eggs; it was a breakfast combination served frequently at our house and our grandparents enjoyed it too; the farm fresh eggs were presented either scrambled or fried and the grits were creamy and covered with yellow butter.  It was a combination usually prepared for breakfast and on occasion for a light supper, and although they are filling, grits were never considered more than simple food.  These days grits are a favorite offering at brunch but country folks only ate three meals a day; breakfast, dinner and supper, we never heard of the repast called brunch or lunch. 

Grits are one of those food products that must be salted early in the preparation or you will never achieve that balanced taste; salt the water first was Nanny's direction, and continuously whisk the grits while slowly introducing into the hot liquid until the ingredients are smooth.  I frequently prepare grits with chicken broth rather than water for added flavor and add a dash of cream or half and half just before serving. 

For countless years this product of processed corn was thought to only be a breakfast food, then chefs and foodies began using it for a background product, or a sponge to soak up and augment the flavors, and now it has become a dish that is served as savory and is becoming more popular with the younger generation.      

Grits are a food manufactured from corn, ground into a coarse meal; and then boiled.  Hominy grits are a type made from hominy after the germ is removed and treated during a process known as nixtamalization.  Some people wonder if grits and polenta are similar food products, and that is accurate; corn meal is also a close relative. 

Grits have a lengthy entry in Wikipedia and a website that proclaims with humor, grits; no one can eat just one.  If you have ever watched the movie "My Cousin Vinny", it is declared that you cannot cook grits in less than ten minutes; it takes a while, at least twenty minutes, to achieve the best tasting product.  If you want to accomplish the best flavor and texture, please do not choose instant grits, you will never get the best flavor and consistence out of that product.  As Mr. Tipton stated in the movie; "no self-respectin' Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits. "

Otto's mother, Myrtle Brown Murray always ate grits with her fried fish, and my great grandmother, Miss Lottie enjoyed grits with red eye gravy. Paula Deen enjoyed shrimp and grits so much that it was a recipe featured at her wedding reception when she married Michael and they served the delicacy in martini glasses.   

Cook the grits as Paula suggests with shrimp broth to enhance the flavor.  Prepare the shrimp in a skillet or broiler and after cooling and peeling them, place the shells in a boiler with water and cook down by half.  Use the strained liquid to prepare grits and the flavor is unbelievable. 

 

Brenda S. Brown 

 

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