An Essential Flavor of the Season
As the weather cools, our thoughts (and inevitably our palettes) turn to comfort foods. That means soups, stews and chilies grace our tables with their comforting warmth against the winter chill. But every soup needs a bread to accompany it, and in the South that means cornbread! And what would Thanksgiving be without dressing and gravy?
A Taste of the Way it Was
Honestly, I didn't enjoy the stuff much as a child, and I'm sure the same criticisms often aimed at grits apply equally to cornmeal and cornbread mixes, and for the same reasons. For any large mill, delivering a really freshly milled cornmeal or cornbread mix to the shelves of stores was technically impossible. The mill had to decide whether to ship a de-germed (and inherently flavorless) cornmeal to the store that lacked flavor, or risk having their product go rancid on the store shelves.
This is where our product has a distinct advantage: it is whole grain. This not only means flavor, but naturally occurring nutrition. Before the advent of widespread wet mills, cornmeal wasn't expected to last very long: the old-timers knew it would go rancid. De-germed corn products were welcomed in the same way T.V. dinners were. The convenience seemed worth the trade at the time.
Our small-scale runs are milled to order, allowing us to encapsulate freshly milled flavor and ship it directly to you! It's just freshly-milled, stone-ground organic cornmeal. And nothing else!
A Few Ways to do it
I've made cornbread several ways, but the purists out there may say that the only way to do it is in a black skillet . I admit, that is a great way to do it! However, I have gotten some great use out of my muffin tin (well-greased and not pre-heated). I have also seen yogurt and sour cream used very effectively to create a moist cornbread. I have added creamed corn, jalapeno pimento cheese, and canned Serrano peppers to cornbread, all to satisfying effect. We won't even judge you if you decide to blend in some wheat flour. We like to play around in the kitchen!
So we are including a few links to our favorites (some of our own, and some we just really like. Click on the links below to get cooking.
Note: Coarse cornmeal is generally used for cornbread,but fine cornmeal makes a cornbread with a finer texture.
Click here for basic cornbread.
Click here for creamed corn cornbread.
Click here for a sweet, moist cornbread.
Click here for cornbread stuffing.
Click here for brown butter skillet cornbread.
It took awhile to get to it, I admit, but we wanted to take the opportunity to thank Anne Postic for the shout-out in Design Sponge. This is a really big deal for us!
I have known Anne since the days of Hanna Jane's in Five Points, which shared a kitchen with Monterrey Jack's (where I worked the illustrious position at the steam table under the leadership of Joe Turklay). But not to bore you with anecdotes--although there are a quite a few that involve that place and those days.....
So thanks again, Anne. We really appreciate it!
Check out the article here.
Crock Pot Grits
“AN HOUR!” is a refrain I often hear from potential customers when asked about how to cook coarse ground grits. I hide my inner exasperation, and solider on, extolling the virtues of the product, and the flavorful rewards of patience. But I agree. An hour is a long time, even if there are plenty of other dishes to cook with the meal. I find myself offering up a bag of quick grits or polenta in an effort to salvage the sale. But there is nothing quite like the texture of coarse stone-ground grits. They're just the 'real deal” for the honest Southern experience that is grits. The only problem: the cooking time for coarse grits hearkens to a time when households had dedicated cooks that could take the time to cook the grits over a low heat to the point of “done-ness,” where the largest particles give way at the first chew in a manner not unlike pasta.
This time commitment is a big deal (and often a deal breaker). But there is another way that is much easier, even if it paradoxically takes a great deal longer than an hour. It is the crock pot, or the slow cooker. With about five minutes of total work, you can enjoy a big pot of coarse ground grits for any meal!
The cooking technique is made easier buy the slow cooker's low heat. The metal pot against a heating element or gas flame is too hot to leave unattended for more than five minutes on even the lowest stove top setting. But the electric heating element of a slow cooker is tempered by the thick ceramic cooking vessel, proving a low, consistent heat over may hours that will render the big grits particles supple and satisfyingly soft. And the recipe also work for quick grits and polenta, with varying cooking times.
To give it a whirl, follow the link to the recipe here.
Pressure Cooker Coarse Grits
Sometimes, only coarse grits will do. Sometimes we fail to plan ahead for the hour or more required to get those coarse stone-ground grits to that perfect softness that is reminiscent of a nice tiny piece of pasta. So what to do? You want grits, and you want them now! Enter the pressure-cooker!
Cooking grits and its finer relatives, quick grits and polenta, is all about hydrating the largest particle through and through. This is where the pressure-cooker stands out in its ability. Unlike the stove top, which simply uses heat to get the grits to absorb water, the pressure-cooker forces the hot water into the grits in a much shorter time span, with hardly any stirring!
My pressure cooker cooked my own coarse grits adequately in about 35 minutes Please keep in mind that all grits and all pressure cookers are different.You can set your cooker for a longer duration, but be sure to add a bit more water, approximately up to another quarter cup..
The pressure-cooker also works with quick grits and polenta. Cook quick grits for 25 minutes on high pressure, and polenta for 15.
Before you start, please be sure to read the instructions to your pressure cooker. Pressurized steam is super dangerous. Obey all safety instructions included with your cooker.
1 Cup Coarse Grits
For Grits, 4 Cups Water or Stock (2 Cups of Milk, Buttermilk, Half and Half. Etc. may be exchanged for 1 Cup Water). For Polenta, use 3.5 Cups of liquid.
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp butter
Recipe can be adjusted to scale.
Add the 4 cups of stock or water to the Pressure cooker then add the 1 cup of grits. Whisk briskly for a minute. Let the grits settle to the bottom. Using a fine tea strainer,“wash” the grits by carefully skimming the floating material off of the surface. Discard material in the tea strainer. Don't scoop up the grits in the bottom!
Add salt. Whisk briskly for a minute.
Seal the cooker according to manufacturer's instructions.
Cook the grits on high pressure for 35 minutes.
When the cooker is finished, carefully release the pressure on the cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use quick release rather than natural.
Let the cooker cool for a few minutes.
Add salt, if needed
Add cheese or any other desired ingredients.
Whisk briskly again to remove any lumps that may have formed.