Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Nitty Gritty on Grits (How to cook Grits class notes)

 It's Tuesday...and that means either a great tutorial here on the blog or I'm teaching a class...but either way, we're learning something!  Today in Chandler AZ I'm teaching a class on the Nitty Gritty on Grits at the Honeyville Grain Retail Store. I am their corporate chef, so yes, I am connected to them on the reccommendations of their products.  They don't pay me to write this blog though, so the thoughts expressed here are my own. I really love their White Corn Grits. They are really excellent. I thought I'd pass on some class notes to those of you who can't make it to class...and give you some great tips on cooking great grits. 
The Nitty Gritty on Grits
By Chef Stephanie Petersen
There are nearly 400 different varieties of corn and Honeyville Food Products is very large in corn production. Millions of pounds of corn a pass through our mill in Rancho Cucamonga, California, every week and we’re very proud of the corn we produce. It is simply the finest around! One of the corn products we produce is called a grit. If you’re not from a Southern state or from a culture that uses corn grits often, there may be some things you don’t know about making grits. Today we’ll be covering the basics on how to cook them and sharing some remarkably good recipes you can use often. Ask any number of Southern cooks and they will each tell you a different way to cook grits. Buying high-quality, stone-ground grits is half the battle. Honeyville makes white and yellow varieties. I use the white most often, as it has a less pronounced corn flavor and my family prefers them. The other half of the battle for amazing grits is patience and stirring. Lumpy grits are usually un-stirred. Cooking the grits slow and low seems to be the best method for getting a good creamy texture.
To cook regular grits:

  • Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight lid for the best heat distribution and heat retention.
  • Stir constantly when you first put the grits and liquid over heat, until the mixture first begins to thicken. You will need to continue stirring frequently, though not constantly, from that point on.
  • Grits cook best over low heat. Most recipes will have you start them at medium heat and then immediately reduce the heat to low once they begin to thicken. You should see large, soft bubbles on the grits' surface occasionally, but no rolling bubbles. Quick grits can survive slightly higher cooking if you are in a rush, but coarse grits truly need low and slow heat.
  •  Quick grits usually need to cook for about eight to ten minutes over medium heat. I like them most at 15 minutes.
  • Soaking. Many recipes recommend soaking grits the night before you are going to cook them. I do this on the stove in the pan I intend on cooking them in if I decide to go that route. Supports of soaking say that this reduces cooking time and also results in a superior final texture, as the corn will hold its shape better in the pot. I’ve tried them both ways and did notice a difference. The ones that were soaked overnight were indeed better at holding their shape and were a little bit creamier in texture. You will also find the cooking time is reduced to about 6 minutes on the Honeyville grits using the soaking method.

Tess' Food Storage Basic Grits
4 cups water
½ cup Honeyville instant milk powder or soymilk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Honeyville white or yellow grits
1/4 cup Honeyville dehydrated butter powder
In a small pot, bring the water, milk powder and salt to a boil. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling mixture. Stir continuously and thoroughly until grits are well mixed. Let the pot return to a boil, cover with a lid, lower the temperature, and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary. Grits are done when they have the consistency of smooth cream of wheat. Stir in the butter powder and serve.

Tess Sour Cream Cheese Grits
½ cup Honeyville powdered sour cream
¼ cup Honeyville cheese sauce powder
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup Honeyville white or yellow grits
1/2 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
¼ cup Honeyville powdered butter
½ cup crumbled crispy bacon
Directions Place the sour cream powder, cheese sauce powder, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the grits while continually whisking. Once all of the grits have been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 10-15 minutes until mixture is creamy. Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon bits if desired.

Sweet variations: Omit cheese sauce powder and bacon from the recipe. Add ½ cup sugar to the recipe along with 1 tsp caramel flavored oil, vanilla, and a dash of Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East spice blend. Add ½ cup freeze dried fruit (of your choice) to the mixture once it has thickened. Turn off the heat and allow the fruit to hydrate. I love it with raspberries, apricots, and blueberries along with some toasted walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios.
Baked Southwestern Buttermilk Cheese Grits
1/4 cup melted butter
4 cups water
½ cup Honeyville buttermilk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Honeyville white or yellow corn grits
½ cup water
¼ cup Honeyville whole egg powder
½ cup Honeyville sour cream powder
1 teaspoon Chef Tess Southwest Fajita Seasoning
1 cup Honeyville freeze dried colby cheese
2T chopped fresh jalapeno or diced green chile
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp baking powder
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole with 2 tablespoons of butter. Combine remaining butter, water, and salt in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. When mixture comes to a simmer, add the grits, stirring until thoroughly combined. Continue to cook the grits at a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile whisk together water, egg powder, sour cream powder and Southwest seasoning. Stir into cooked grits along with cheeses.. Pour mixture into prepared casserole. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Tess Roasted Corn Grits
Recipe adapted from the Jeff Blake, Zea Rotisserie and Brewery (The Tastebuds)
5 cups water
1T low sodium chicken bouillon powder
½ cup Honeyville cream cheese powder or sour cream powder
¼ stick butter
1 cup Honeyville freeze dried corn
1 cup Honeyville white or yellow grits
Green onions for garnish
1. To grill corn, Lightly toast freeze dried corn in a dry pan until slightly browned.
3. Bring water, bouillon powder and sour cream powder to a boil.
4. Slowly whisk in the grits and then the corn.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes. Add more water if needed (about 1/2 cup at a time and stir well.)
6. Add cracked black pepper to taste. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions.

There you go my darlings! Make some delicious grits! I fly out to Utah tomorrow and will be there for then next few days with FREE Classes and Book Signing Events! I hope to see you soon! Xoxo!!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

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