Bon Appetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, presents classic recipes from the American South, including French Toast Casserole; Grits with Corn and Vidalia Onion; and Fried Catfish Fingers with Country Rémoulade.
Serves 4 to 6
Only use fresh corn in season for this recipe. As soon as corn is harvested, the sugar in the kernel begins to convert to starch and the corn begins to lose its sweetness. To store corn, leave on the husks and store it loosely wrapped in damp paper towels inside a paper bag. Refrigerate and use it within twenty-four hours.
My friend, chef Marvin Woods, introduced me to the technique of grating the onion on a box grater instead of finely chopping it. When the onion is grated, it almost melts into the grits, adding a layer of onion flavor without any noticeable onion texture (always present with chopped onion, regardless of how fine the pieces). It also adds a bit more moisture to the grits than chopped onion does.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels become soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the milk, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the grits are creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in the butter, cheese, parsley, and chives. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
Variation: Grits and greens are one of the best possible marriages in Southern cuisine. It's a meal in itself or an incredible bed for Bourbon Baked Ham (page 78 of the book). Prepare Tangle of Bitter Greens (page 198), then add the greens to the saucepan of cooked grits as the last step, stirring well to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
This page created September 2008
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