You know that feeling you get when you're happily minding your own business and suddenly realize you are the sole focus of everyone in the room and not in a good way? Imagine you're a shy 16-year-old 'Yankee' in the south for the very first time and sitting in a rural Arkansas diner at 6:00 AM.
I remember our waitress looked just like Flo from the TV show Alice only her accent was thicker and her hair a little bigger. She was staring at me from behind the counter watching me put maple syrup and strawberries in my bowl of grits.
"Child, what are you doin to them grits?" she asked, which stopped what few conversations where still going on in the diner. "Have you never had grits before?"
Quickly bringing me another bowl she gave me my first education in eating southern grits. "First, these are real grits not that instant shit. Second, we cook them in milk, cream if you have it . Third, the only thing that goes in them are salt, pepper and lots and lots of butter. However, if you're having them with dinner it's okay to put some cheese in there".
I have to admit her version was good but honestly, I also liked it with strawberries and maple syrup. Over the years I've tried adding many things to grits and have almost always been happy, which leads me to believe it's hard to screw up grits.
In the eyes of true southerners I know I'm committing heresy. When I'm told this I have only one thing to say..."Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
Caramelized Peach and Blueberry Grits
If you have true hominy grits you'll need about 20 minutes cooking time but I've found that quick-cooking grits are great for breakfast in a hurry.
1 cup water
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe peach, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon or water
Bring water to a simmer and whisk in grits and salt. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the cut side of the peaches with sugar and place cut side down in a hot skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar starts to caramelize. Remove and set aside.
In a small saucepan combine blueberries, sugar and bourbon and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until blueberries start to burst.
Pour grits into a serving bowl and top with peaches, blueberries and toasted almonds.