Pimp My Grits

Last night while talking to my mother on the phone, I asked her if she ever made grits. I don’t remember her ever serving them to us, so I was curious if her mother ever made them. Mom said no, and she wasn’t sure if she had ever eaten them before.

I remember a typical family breakfast for us was biscuits and jam, sausage or country ham or bacon, and scrambled eggs. For me, it was breakfast cereal or the occasional biscuit or piece of toast with jam or jelly. Yep, I was a picky eater as a child. I’m glad that’s changed.

I’ve eaten grits before, but don’t remember them being a menu staple in too many places so I don’t even remember where I’ve eaten them except one place in particular. In 2014 while in Charleston, SC I had shrimp and grits with red eye gravy at a restaurant right on the water called Fleets Landing.  They were so good and worth remembering! So I think grits are a more popular dish the closer you get to the coast in the south because Vivian remembers them very well from her childhood.

Cheesy Grits. Just add hot sauce.

This weekend we watched the “Pimp My Grits” episode of A Chef’s Life from Season 1, and the grits section in Deep Run Roots has the same title and features Pimento Cheese Grits with Salsa and Grits and Greens with Hot Sauce and Pork Rinds.

We started by making a batch of cheesy grits. When buying grits, Vivian suggests whichever box of instant grits that has the fewest ingredients. I didn’t know until watching her show that they are made from corn. I would have definitely guessed they were a grain, but not corn. On the show, Vivian visited the Old Mill of Guilford which has been in business since 1767! And it’s water-powered. (See pic above.)

We enjoyed a bowl of the cheesy grits with a bit of hot sauce that night and then saved some for breakfast the next day. On the show, Vivian makes a sausage ragu to add to her grits that night in the restaurant, so that’s what we decided to do for breakfast. I noted that in the cookbook there’s a recipe called Spoonbread with Sausage Ragout. On the show, they spelled it ragu.  Spellcheck says ragout is correct, but I think either spelling is okay.  I once had a friend in a restaurant order the Seafood Rag Out. Hey, when I was younger

Cheesy Grits with Vivian’s Sausage Ragu

and didn’t know I probably would have done the same thing.

The “ragu” is a mix of sausage, mushrooms, onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, stock, butter, and spices. I used turkey sausage and had all fresh vegetables.  We topped the grits with the ragu and then sprinkled some shredded cheese on top. It’s definitely a hardy comfort food, especially when I don’t usually care much for a large breakfast still to this day (I’m eating breakfast cereal while writing this).

I should also note, unlike Vivian, I don’t care much for tomatoes. I hate them sliced on a sandwich and will usually request it to be left off. BUT…I love them cooked in things like stews or pasta, and don’t mind them fresh in salsa. It’s weird, I know, and especially since my dad grew tomatoes during much of my youth. More about that later. But we actually had some fresh tomatoes that we bought at the farmer’s market last weekend so I did chop one up and threw it in and it was just fine.

Like the cornmeal, I’m not done with the grits section just yet. I want to try her Pimento Cheese Grits with Salsa next. Maybe we’ll have that next weekend before we go out shopping for Thanksgiving groceries.


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