Friday, February 22, 2008

Carolina Quick Grits

Quick Grits
Time: soak overnight, cook time 15 minutes; no soak method, cook time 30 minutes

Anson Mills Carolina Quick Grits have the natural whole corn richness, creaminess and fragrance of our Antebellum coarse grits, but are milled slightly finer. Fine particles of corn drop a note or two in flavor and textural complexity compared with coarser particles, but our quick grits can be on the table in about half the time as coarse grits—15 minutes if they're soaked overnight, 30 if they're cooked on the fly. Irrespective of the degree of planning or spontaneity that rules their preparation, Quick Grits prefer low heat on the stove, just like our coarse grits.

Equipment Mise en Place
For this recipe you will need a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, a fine tea strainer, a small saucepan, a balloon whisk and a wooden spoon.

1 cup (6 ounces) Anson Mills White or Yellow Carolina Quick Grits
3 or 4 cups spring or filtered water (see below)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cooking Remarks
Soaking the grits in water overnight and cooking them in the soaking liquid will reduce their cooking time by about 50%. In real terms this means that a cup of grits, soaked overnight, will cook in about 15 minutes. If you don't pre-soak the grits their cooking time will increase to 30 minutes.

With their smaller particle size and increased surface area, quick grits require more water at the outset of cooking than coarse grits. Because they cook more quickly and with more water, we cook them uncovered.

1. Place the grits in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover them with 3 cups water. Stir once. Allow the grits to settle a full minute, tilt the pan, and skim off and discard the chaff and hulls with a fine tea strainer. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. Note: If you have not pre-soaked the grits, cover them with 4 cups water as directed above and proceed to Step 2.

2. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the first starch takes hold, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are creamy and tender throughout and hold their shape on a spoon, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on whether or not they were pre-soaked. Add the salt halfway through cooking. To finish, stir in the butter with vigorous strokes. Add more salt, if desired, and black pepper.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

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