Grits, not just for southerners anymore.

I grew up in the South and being a Southern girl (y’all), I love grits.  Nutritionally, grits are not a power house, but most grits you buy today have been fortified to increase the B Vitamins and Iron. They are a natural source of selenium. One cup of yellow grits has about 150 calories and 3-4 grams of protein.

Typically if you order grits in a restaurant they are made in the traditional way, with water.I don’t love grits with water. First, I like to have some protein at breakfast. Second, grits made with water are just….flavorless. I do love grits made with milk. The milk adds a creaminess and mouth appeal and protein too.

One thing I learned from my mother was to treat the grits like risotto, adding  the milk in stages. It makes for a wonderful creamy texture.

Southern chefs favor the organically grown, stone ground heirloom grits from Anson Mills in Columbia, SC.  I have not tried them as yet, but I suspect they are the “premium” grits to buy and eat. Emeril,  Thomas Keller and Tom Colicchio are all fans.

The grits from Anson Mills http://www.ansonmills.com/products/8 must be soaked overnight and cooked for up to 90 minutes. I would love to try Anson Mills grits. I can almost taste the difference in my imagination.

Sadly, I have given in to poor old instant grits due to time constraints. I also may shortcut the stove top cooking by using the microwave.  In that, I feel I really need to trump up the flavor to make them palatable.

Milk is always the base I use for my grits but I branch out from there as my moods change.  Shrimp and Grits to me are more of a dinnertime food (breakfast for dinner) so I don’t make them in the morning.

These are some of the ways I have varied my morning grits. When cooking grits, I add:

Shredded cheddar cheese, roasted chopped green chiles and chopped tomato for New Mexican Style

Pieces of goat cheese and Herbs de Provence for French style grits

Feta cheese and sometimes chopped Kalamata olives for Greek grits

Italian is Parmesan and fresh chopped basil

This week I went to a Parmesan Cutting event at Scardello’s Cheese shop http://scardellocheese.com/.  I brought home a round of Cypress Grove Purple Haze Goat Cheese   http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/our-cheese/fresh-chevre/purple-haze.html#.U9xiY-OJGRM  It is goat cheese with fennel pollen and lavender. I added some to my morning grits. Deeeelicious!

Other ideas I have thought of or seen online but have not tried are:
Mascarpone and grits
Black bean and cheddar cheese grits topped with avocado chunks
Goat cheese and garlic grits (thanks Bobby Flay!)
Corn and green chile grits
Fried grits (from cold leftover grits…thank you Mom!)

I am not a meat eater but you can also make your grits with some  ham, green pepper, tomato, mushrooms and cheese, like a country omelet without the egg.
Hmmm and now that I am thinking about it, what about meat ball, marinara sauce and grits for dinner?

So you see, grits are not just for Southerners anymore. They are for those of us with a great imagination and the love of variety in our foods.  I hope you will experiment with your own ideas and make the most of your morning grits. I would love to hear about your favorites.