We’ve long associated grits as part of our country breakfast south of the Mason Dixon line, or in classic southern dishes like shrimp and grits. But grits have become so much more than that, and you can see its influence and implementations in recipes far and wide.
From New York to California, grits are hosted on plenty of menus where chef want to feature great comfort food. “Here at Root & Bone we showcase an amazing stone ground grit from Trumansburg, NY where they grind it the old-fashioned way. One thing that makes good grits special is not letting your ground grits sit around too long. Though grits are viewed as a dry ingredient they do lose their aromatic luster when sitting in a ware house or kitchen shelf too long. We buy ours twice a week in order to preserve freshness,” says Jeff McInnis.
Grits are one of those comfort foods that has the ability to give us a sense of nostalgia, says Chef Tony Street of Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse in Dallas, Texas.
In addition, grits are such a wonderful and classic dish and in their simplicity, allow for a lot of creativity. “They are somewhat of a blank canvas, which I feel make them particular fun to prepare! The word itself is even fun to say!” says Street.
Grits should definitely be eaten right away, otherwise they tend to thicken up quickly. If your grits do turn out too thick, you can easily thin them out by adding some chicken stock or milk, says Street. Also, don’t be shy with the salt! Think of grits as a blank canvas, so on their own they can be rather bland, but you can build them up to be anything you want them to be – like these incredible spins below!
From Chef Jeff McInnis of Root & Bone
“The recipe we are sharing takes corn and cheese to the next level. We love pimento cheese at Root & Bone and use it in several different ways. When putting it in the grits it gives a creamy smooth richness with some pepper and extra flavor. Also the roasted corn acts as a little burst of fresh sweet corn which pairs well against the dried grits and corn bread crust,” says Chef Jeff McInnis of Root & Bone in New York City. (Photo Courtesy of Root & Bone)
From Chef Matt Ratcliffe of BLT Steak Atlanta
“For me, this recipe is a really fun way to totally flip grits and bring new life into them. Being from the South, we are damn proud of our grits and how dare someone try to change that. Well, in my mind it’s not exactly a change. There is still corn, butter and all the other awesome richness that come with traditional grits, it just has the fun taste of popcorn…who doesn’t like that?” says Chef Matt Ratcliffe of BLT Steak Atlanta.
“I have come up with a dish that is a twist on the classic shrimp and grits using my spin, popcorn grits, with house smoked Tasso ham, Vidalia onions, jalapeno for some spice and pickled sweet peppers garnished with some micro cilantro and corn shoots,” Ratcliffe says. (Photo Courtesy of BLT Steak Atlanta )
From Peter Oleyer of Calexico
“There is something uniquely comforting about a cheesy bowl of grits. As much as I love fresh sweet corn, I think grits are the finest expression of corn you can find. While you don’t see grits on the menu at most Mexican restaurants, here at Calexico we’re such freaks for corn that we had to include them! We don’t add any butter to our grits. That allows us to add more cheese, and at the end of the day what good are grits if they aren’t super cheesy? While unexpected, these cheesy jalapeño grits are an awesome addition to any summer BBQ. Trust me: Steaks, shrimp, sausages, and chicken off the grill are all way better when served alongside these craveable grits,” says Peter Oleyer, chef/partner at Calexico restaurants and carts in New York City. (Photo Courtesy of Calexico)
“I am powerless when it comes to pancakes. When I get it in my mind to eat some, I won’t rest until I am lying on the couch in a pancake coma. Mixing my love of pancakes with my newfound desire to put grits in everything seemed like fate. Next time, I will probably put more bacon in the pancakes,” says Hyatt Regency New Orleans Executive Chef Eric Damidot. (Photo Courtesy of Hyatt Regency New Orleans)
From Chef Aarti Sequeira
“Don’t get me wrong, grits are pretty great on their own. But the truly exceptional thing about grits is that they are a open canvas for your own story. So imagine this dish as the story of what happens, culinarily speaking, when an Indian girl falls in love with a dashing Southern man who has a thing for shrimp and grits,” says Chef Aarti Sequeira, Host of 10 Minute Meals on OWNZONES and author of Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul. “I can’t imagine doing grits without some kind of cheese in them, and some crème fraiche. There’s a place here in LA that makes them with big shards of slab bacon and that’s pretty much my idea of a perfect Saturday morning, as long as I get to take a nap afterwards!” says Sequeira.(Photo Courtesy of Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul.)
Chef Michael Ruiz helms the kitchen at New Orleans inspired restaurant and bar called Preux & Proper in Downtown Los Angeles as well as at the newly opened Royal from the same owners), where he crafts seasonally changing menus all with a Cajun theme. Naturally, he had to include the Southern staple Shrimp & Grits on the menu but in order to take it to the next level he serves Grilled Gulf Shrimp with fried grit cubes! (Photo Courtesy of Preux & Proper)
Chef Tony Street
“I love the flavor combination created by the Tabasco and goat cheese – it’s something unexpected, but comes out absolutely delicious! I have always loved the amount of spice and heat Tabasco provides, and goat cheese is such a creamy cheese I knew it would mix in perfectly with the consistency of grits as well as compliment the spice of the Tabasco perfectly,” says Chef Tony Street of Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse in Dallas. (Photo Courtesy of Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse)
Executive Chef Andrea Maricich of The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich in Dallas. The cauliflower is cooked until soft in coconut milk with a pinch of saffron; it is strained, pulsed through the processor and mixed back together with the cooking liquid. To order it is heated in a sauté pan until most of the liquid is cooked out. Finished with mascarpone, seasoned with a touch of sriracha and salt. Amazing! And it tastes like grits.(Photo Courtesy of The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich)
By Brooke Williamson
Top Chef Seattle first-runner up and owner of Playa Del Rey’s gastropub The Tripel and Redondo Beach staple the Hudson House, creates her grits a little unconventionally – in a pressure cooker. She loves pairing creamy grits with a protein such a pork porterhouse, topped with a anchovy chimichurri.(Photo Courtesy of The Tripel)
By Aly Walansky