Grits, a staple of Southern cuisine, are the pieces of dried corn that remain after the hard kernels are shattered in a mill and separated from the cornmeal. Stone-ground grits are made by grinding the corn between cool stones, while commercial mills typically use steel rollers. According to food writers Matt Lee and Ted Lee, natives of South Carolina, commercial mills remove the kernel's outer shell and the underlying corn oil, enhancing the shelf life of the grits but reducing the flavor. The University of Minnesota reports that retaining the hull also offers more antioxidants, B-vitamins and fiber.
How to Cook Stone-Ground Grits
Pour 4 cups of water in a heavy two-quart saucepan and cover the pan. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, remove the lid and add 1 cup of stone-ground grits and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium.
Stir the grits continually for about eight minutes or until they begin to thicken to a consistency similar to thick soup. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the grits uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Remove the saucepan from the heat when the grits are creamy and soft. Stir in butter or margarine and pepper to taste. Grits pair well with a variety of ingredients, so you can also add other foods or flavor enhancers such as low-calorie sweetener, lemon zest or a small amount of cheese to create different combinations. This recipe serves four people.
Stone-ground grits are perishable and at their peak of freshness right after they are ground. Store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer for three to six weeks.
Use butter or margarine in moderation to avoid excess calories or fat.