|Main ingredients||Ground corn|
Hominy grits |
Yellow speckled grits
|Cookbook: Grits Media: Grits|
Grits is a food made from corn that is ground into a coarse meal and then boiled. Hominy grits is a type of grits made from hominy, which is corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization. Grits are usually served with other flavorings as a breakfast dish, usually savory. It is popular in the Southern United States. It may also be found as an evening entrée when made with shrimp. Grits should not be confused with boiled ground corn maize which makes "hasty pudding" or "mush" or when using coarse ground corn, may be made into polenta.
The word "grits" may be treated as either singular or plural; historically, in the American South it was always singular. It derives from the Old English word "grytt," meaning coarse meal.
Grits have their origin in Native American corn preparation. Traditionally, the hominy for grits was ground on a stone mill. The ground hominy is then passed through screens, the finer sifted material used as grit meal, and the coarser as grits. Many American communities used a gristmill until the mid-twentieth century, farmers bringing their corn to be ground, and the miller keeping a portion as his fee. State law in South Carolina requires grits and rice meal to be enriched, similar to the requirement for flour, unless the grits were made from the corn a miller kept as his fee.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are bought in the South, in an area stretching from Texas to Virginia that is sometimes called the "grits belt". The state of Georgia declared grits its official prepared food in 2002. Similar bills have been introduced in South Carolina, with one declaring:
Whereas, throughout its history, the South has relished its grits, making them a symbol of its diet, its customs, its humor, and its hospitality, and whereas, every community in the State of South Carolina was once the site of a grits mill and every local economy in the State used to be dependent on its product; and whereas, grits has been a part of the life of every South Carolinian of whatever race, background, gender, and income; and whereas, grits could very well play a vital role in the future of not only this State, but also the world, if as Charleston's The Post and Courier proclaimed in 1952, "An inexpensive, simple, and thoroughly digestible food, [grits] should be made popular throughout the world. Given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would have nothing to fight about. A man full of [grits] is a man of peace."
Grits are either yellow or white, depending on the color of corn. The most common version in supermarkets is "quick" grits, which have the germ and hull removed. Whole kernel grits are sometimes called "Speckled".
Whole kernel grits are prepared by adding five or six parts boiling water (seasoned with salt - 1/4 tsp for each cup of water) to one part grits and cooking for 20 to 45 minutes. Grits expand when cooked and need periodic stirring to prevent sticking, and lumps from forming. They are not done until they have absorbed four and one quarter times their volume of water. The additional water allows for some evaporation as they cook. Whole grain grits require much longer to become soft than do "quick grits." Grits are most typically served seasoned with and or salt and pepper, as well as generous amounts of butter. On occasion they are served with grated cheese, sausage, bacon, or red-eye gravy. Grits may also be seasoned with butter and sugar, and a small amount of salt, giving them a salty-sweet flavor similar to kettle rice.
Extra, i.e. left-over, grits can be put into a glass tumbler, chilled until needed, sliced, and fried either plain or with a breading. In this form they are denominated "fried grits", "fried hominy", or "grit cakes".
Shrimp and grits is a traditional dish in the Low Country of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. A variation of the dish also is consumed for breakfast in the northern states of Kedah and Perlis in peninsular Malaysia. It is a traditional breakfast dish.
"Charleston-style grits" are boiled in milk instead of water, giving them a creamy consistency.
- Cuisine of the Southern United States
- Cuisine of the United States
- Hasty pudding
- List of porridges
- Three Sisters (agriculture)
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- Harper, Douglas, Online Etymology Dictionary: grits, retrieved August 27, 2011
- South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 39 – Trade and Commerce, Chapter 29, retrieved Dec 14, 2007
- Charles L., Cutler (2002). Tracks that speak: the legacy of Native American words in North American culture. USA: Houghton Mifflin. p. 28. ISBN 0-618-06510-5., retrieved Oct 25, 2009
- Georgia Secretary of State, State Prepared Food, retrieved Dec 14, 2007
- South Carolina General Assembly 113th Session, 1999–2000, Bill Number: 4806, retrieved Dec 14, 2007