Friday, January 14, 2011

True Grit: Buffalo Cheese Grits

I see your polenta and raise you my grits. Here in the south, grits aren't just a breakfast staple. They are a classic side dish for fish fry and BBQ dinners. I'm not talking about that thin, watery, and bland white stuff some people call "grits". I'm talking about True Grits!

This is one of my favorite movie scenes about grits and it raises a point. Okay, it's the only grit movie scene I can think of bit it still raises a point.

There is a world of difference between "instant grits" and true grits. Instant grits are weak in taste and texture. Real grits have body and their own subtle flavor. You can see the difference between the two even before cooking. That isn't kosher salt on the right, those are instant grits compared to real grits on the left.

My preferred brand of grits is Charleston Favorites stone ground yellow grits. I buy ours locally. If you can't find them in your grocery store (look for the small burlap bag) you can order them online.

Here is one of my favorite grit recipes that I came up with just this year. It's based on the flavors from buffalo wings and have everything but the chicken. They are hearty, creamy and deliver just the right kick. I was alone the first time I made them and when I told Alexis the ingredients...

she made a funny face because she thought the ingredients didn't go together. But when she tried them, she devoured them.

Buffalo Cheese Grits
Source: Nibble Me This

3 Tbsp butter (divided into 2 and 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp celery, very very finely diced
2/3 cup Charleston Favorites yellow stone ground grits
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used homemade)
2/3 tsp kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese
1 Tbsp Fire Ant Juice or other gourmet hot sauce

Melt 2 Tbsp butter and saute the celery until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the grits and then add salt, the water, and 1 cup of stock. NOTE: True grits will have some bran in them. This is a part of the corn grain and will not soften during cooking. When you first add the liquid, the bran will float to the top. Skim these bran flakes off with a spoon and discard. For this quantity of grits, you can expect 1 Tbsp or less of bran.

Bring grits to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. They will start to thicken at about 15 minutes into the cooking time. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of stock in small increments during the last 15 minutes to keep the desired texture. Think of it like you are cooking risotto.

In the last 5 minutes add the gorgonzola or blue cheese. I like just about 1/2 cup. If you prefer milder, use less. Stir in the Fire Ant Juice. You can use a plain hot sauce but I prefer the more complex flavor of the combined jalapeno, cayenne and habanero peppers that Fire Ant Juice brings. It's my favorite hot sauce and won a first place Scovie award in 2010. 1 Tbsp is just about right for a mild but noticeable kick. If you like spicy food, use an ounce. If you like less, go with a teaspoon.

Add in the last Tbsp of butter as you take the grits off of heat.

Feel free to garnish with more gorgonzola and/or hot sauce.

[Standard Review Disclaimer] I am a paying customer of these two products. I don't get any compensation from Charleston Favorites. When placing a paid order for Fire Ant Juice, I do occasionally get an extra 'freebie' jar of something new to try from Chef Wayne but he does that for other people too, it's not "compensation" for a review.