‘Grits’ originally came from the Native American Muskogee tribe, where an Indian corn, similar to hominy or maize, was stone milled, giving corn a ‘gritty’ texture. The grain is usually served as breakfast item, favoring the savoury side (butter/cheese/eggs) and has climbed history as a staple from the South.
To learn more, ‘The Meaning of True Grits’ published by the New York Times in 1982, gives an outlook to what a simple homely dish can mean to a community. It truly is a humble dish that creates a level of agreeable comfort, and to the quote the article ‘indeed, this would be a much happier world if more its millions had grits.’. Check out the article here.
Learning what grits was all about had me teasing with the idea of what it would taste like as a sweet breakfast item! It’s texture, slow cooked with coconut milk and some cream? Surely it would work out!
As much as I wanted to write a recipe, a coffee chat with a fellow cook/baker had me thinking about why we keep industry techniques to ourselves instead of sharing them. I’m talking about how we write and speak in ratios and percentages. In the kitchen, you never really here ‘its a cup of this! and a teaspoon of this!’ It’s more on the lines of ‘it’s a 2:1 ratio, brine it at 2%, double it by 150%’. It’s a little maths, but it also means you can cater exactly to your liking. Breakfast for two, or twenty five - you’ll be good.
Here are some clues and a loose game plan of how I made these coconut grits.
The ratio to grits to liquid I used was 1:4. So if you’re using 1 cup of grits, you’re adding 4 cups of liquid. Here, the liquid I used was 50% coconut milk, 25% milk (alt milk could be used) & 25% water.
You can infuse the liquids too. I did. by steeping them all together, with a cardamon pod, cinnamon stick and an orange peel. (‘character building’)
I toasted the grits in the pan over medium heat in a deep pot BEFORE I added the HOT liquids. (adding cold liquids to something that’s already hot, is just slowing down the process (I learnt this from a chef yelling behind me, slapping his spoon on the bench, so I’m telling you, in the sooofftest way possible.)
the secret in the pudding is in the salt, but also the sweetness and how it’s layered. I seasoned this with sea salt and layered it with brown sugar, honey and vanilla. (taste as you go, it’s better for all of us if you add a little at a time rather than falling into impatience and adding a shittone from the get go)
Keep whisking and simmer on LOW heat, low and slooooow. (For a cup of grits, it took me around 20-25 minutes to ‘doneness’) This gives time for the corn to absorb the liquid and go juuuust a little beyond al dente to give you the creamiest grits. (but to make it extra creamy, I poured in a little cream at the end, because fuck man, if I’m going to live in this cold hard world, give me the gluten, the dairy and the greens)
To top my coconut grits with some morning happiness, I chucked some frozen berries in a saucepan, with a drizzle of maple syrup and added just enough water so the berries were barely covered. Boiling this and then lowering it to a simmer, allows the berries break down a little and for the juices to slightly thicken.
I also added some granola, I’m not going to lie, I really just added it ‘for the ‘gram’ but it did give some texture!
Isso! Grits and some clues, may you one day realise how amazing 6AM can feel if you made love to your breakfast game.