Grits photo by Dan4th via www.creativecommons.com
Grits photo by Dan4th via www.creativecommons.com

Everyone north of Tennessee will tell you that grits are an acquired taste. I don’t believe this to be accurate. The problem with grits is that for the most part, they are poorly prepared, even in the south. If you start with a commercially prepared box of white grits, pour them in boiling water and serve, you might as well try to eat wallpaper paste. Eating grits prepared in this way would be an acquired taste, similar to sucking crawfish heads or eating rooster fries.

Just as the taste of any other food depends on the quality of the raw material, grits are no exception. You can still mess up good yellow grits with poor preparation, but you’re dead in the water without a quality product. Every time we see a new brand of southern made grits, we try them out. Most are pretty good, but occasionally we find one that is outstanding and Dixie Lily Yellow Grits are just that, outstanding.

The Dixie Lily folks have been making grits in Saraland, Alabama since 1933. I don’t think they are stone ground, but I never have understood why that would make a big difference anyway. There’s not much that can be said of grits past the fact that they taste good and have a great texture when served, but the rest of the story is all about cooking them properly. Here is Clista Haley’s recipe, and I can tell you she is a grit cooking machine.

Place one and a quarter cups of water in a 1-quart pot. Add one and a quarter cups of half & half and one half tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly add one half cup of Dixie Lily Yellow Grits to the boiling liquid and cook over medium heat for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. When most of the liquid has been absorbed by the grits, add one half stick of salted creamery butter and cover for five minutes. Serve in bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Use Dixie Lily Yellow Grits and this fail-safe preparation method and you’ll acquire a lifelong taste for grits.

Wall O' Grits photo by milfodd via www.creativecommons.com
Wall O’ Grits photo by milfodd via www.creativecommons.com

One thought on “Great Grits! What’s a “grit”? by Tom Lawrence

  1. Results of brief research (never liked grits):

    Grits are a vehicle for whatever else you’d rather be eating (uhmmm butter, cheese…)


    “Grits are hot; they are abundant, and they will by-gosh stick to your ribs. Give your farmhands (that is, your children) cold cereal for breakfast and see how many rows they hoe. Make them a pot of grits and butter, and they’ll hoe till dinner and be glad to do it.”
    ― Janis Owens, The Cracker Kitchen: A Cookbook in Celebration of Cornbread-Fed, Down Home Family Stories and Cuisine

    Maybe I should consume them like castor oil. Hmmm. Grits with butter, cheddar cheese or gravy, and castor oil.

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