Grits is very much a US feature of the breakfast table. Having spotted it on the menu at a breakfast diner in Portland, Oregon many moons ago. For the uninitiated, grits is a porridge prepared with boiled cornmeal. It usually comes with other flavours which can be savoury or sweet.
One of the main type of grits is hominy which is a corn that has been treated with alkali in the process of nixtamalization. The outer pericarp is removed.
The dish began life in the Southern states but has a much older background in the tribes such as the Muskogee who were making it using hominy and maize. The food has long been a nutritional source of calcium and iron.
Industrial processing of cornmeal relies on specially processed degerminated white corn. Modern milling technologies have replaced to a large extent stone milling or stone grinding although this form is regarded as the original. It is a still a major selling point emphasising authenticity of the food.
Grits are not made by hand as they might have been produced years ago but the basic recipe is add four parts of boiling water or milk with a small amount of salt per cup of liquid, to one part of cornmeal.
A pot or saucepan is commonly used because it can be covered and cooked on a very low heat for between 25 and 45 minutes. Stirring is needed to avoid burning on the pan bottom and to ensure lumps are kept to a bare minimum.
The grits soak up the liquid and the cooking process is not complete until they have soaked up at least foru times their volume in water or milk.
Quick grits have slowly replaced whole grain grits because they are quicker to cook.
Popular additions include sugar although keen officianados only consider salt and some pepper as the most appropriate additions. Butter, grated cheese, savoury meat and bacon have also been included.
Grits are also eaten with other foods such as shrimp and catfish, sausages, ham and bacon. Shrimp and Grits is a still a common and popular dish in the coastal cities of the South.
Products On The Shelf
Some very famous brands such as Quaker Oats have been offering ready made variants for a number of years. Instant grits are often prepared in a bowl with small garnishes added to enhance the attractiveness of the food. The current offerings include butter, three cheese and cheddar cheese as well as an original versions.
From a claims perspective, it is GMO free and certainly gluten free.
More traditional farm-based producers will supply their product using the old-fashioned stone ground method. No other ingredients are added or needed. Palmetto Farms offer stone ground grits in 32 ounce quantities.