True Grits

Grits: You love them or you hate them. There is NO in between. I will admit this--most of the southern population has been eating mediocre grits their whole lives. Boiled in a pot with water for just a few minutes, the texture is akin to Quikrete. No wonder Notherners think we're crazy down here.

Grits are stone-ground corn (white or yellow) and the texture leaves much to be desired. Made with water and seasoned with salt and pepper, it's a staple on breakfast menus everywhere. Upscale restaurants serve them with shrimp, fish, and an up-charge of $20. [insert ironic scoff here]

A true grit lover scoffs at instant or quick-cooking grits; only long-cooking stone-ground grits are worth eating. Grits are served as a side dish for breakfast and in recent times, for dinner and are traditionally doctored up with butter, milk, cream and sometimes sugar.

The ubiquitous Southern staple: Shrimp and grits.

1 cup stone-ground grits
4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon half-and-half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
1 large garlic clove, minced

Bring milk and butter to a slow boil. Stir in grits with a whisk. Reduce the heat to the low and cook the grits until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. The grits should have the same consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick, add water to thin. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned and crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Add mushrooms, the lemon juice, half-and-half, parsley, green onions, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or just until mushrooms release their moisture.

Next, add the shrimp and until shrimp turn pink. Remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the grits into a serving dish. Pour the shrimp mixture over the grits. Garnish with the bacon bits.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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