My friend Kat from Florida always spoke of grits. I had never had any, and it seemed like the mystical Caesar from Canada (a bloody Mary made with clam juice – sounds wrong but oh my, is it wonderful). I wanted some.
But, where to start with grits? Tough to find in the UK (although Spuntino has recently put some on their menu). I did my research and some compared it to polenta. I could see that that wasn’t quite right as when I occasionally mentioned this to someone from the deep South, they reacted like I was insulting their mother.
I could see that there was quick cook and then old school. I wanted old school so when I went to Florida in February, I sourced proper Carolina plantation grits that came in their own little sack, and thus started a grits adventure.
I played around a bit and discovered that yes, they were gritty, and nutty too. Slightly grey in colour, they need long cooking – an hour to get the right texture (unless you are using quick grits).
I made some plain to have with a chorizo stew and had a eureka moment – why not put the chorizo in, with some ricotta (to make them light and fluffy) and bake them for the last half an hour to get fluffy grits packing a chorizo punch with a nice crispy crust.
I did, and I haven’t looked back. They are a Sunday staple now, and proudly, my Floridian friend has proclaimed them the best grits she ever had.
Notes on the recipe: it seems like a lot of water, it is a lot of water, an not much grits, but these dry little grits need it and they will expand. They will be fluffy, not soggy. Use good ricotta, the best dry stuff, or make your own (easy and recipe in a certain book “Comfort & Spice coming your way soon! :)
Recipe: Chorizo & Ricotta Grits
Serves 4 as part of breakfast (stunning with a fry up) or 2 for lunch
100g proper grits (not quick cook)
150g cured chorizo, diced
100g good ricotta (I used buffalo)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (OPTIONAL: I like heat so I add this but not essential)
Add the water to the grits in a solid pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for half an hour. They will look like grey molten tar, but don’t worry. Stir occasionally as they will stick.
Preheat your oven to 200 deg C. While it is heating and the grits are cooking, sauté the chorizo until softening in a little oil, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat.
Add the ricotta, chorizo and garlic to the grits and mix. Pour into an oiled dish – the bigger the dish the more crispy crust you will have – and roast for 25 – 30 minutes until the crust is a dark orange but not burned.
Try and stop yourself from eating every last bit of them.