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.
Tonight I am proud to announce the introduction of my new product: Real Hominy Grits. It was my goal to make these when I opened. Many claim to make hominy grits, and given the pejoration the term "hominy" has endured (due to a cultural misunderstanding, in my opinion), it could be argued soundly that corn grits really are hominy.
But just as sure as I feel it is weird to say "corn grits," I also feel that hominy grits must be something different than plain old grits. If not, why the distinction? Certainly, there must be something to this notion of "hominy grits." After all my life in the South, I had eaten grits, and I had eaten hominy (out of a can), but I had never eaten hominy grits.
So I decided to introduce this product. These grits include a portion of that often misunderstood food, hominy (nixtamalized corn), which is dried and blended with fresh corn, then milled coarsely. The finished result is a product that is delicious, unique, and nutritious.
So let other mills throw about the term all they like--but if you want the Real Hominy Grits-- buy them from me!
For those of you who are interested in knowing about nixtamalization there is a link to a decent Wikipedia page here. It does a good job of explaining the history and benefits of nixtamal, and the sacred relationship Native Americans have with their most important and widely-dispersed cereal.
There is something about slow-cooked pork in barbecue sauce and kimchi. Maybe it is because kimchi is a common match with pork in Korean restaurants (i.e. spicy pork and kimchi), or because cabbage is no stranger to barbecued pork here in the South. For the uninitiated, kimchi may be intimidating, but you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Just think of it as coleslaw gone rouge, or sauerkraut from Korea.
For this recipe, we will leave you to your own machinations on the barbecue and the kimchi, and if any of you whip this up with your own homemade kimchi and wood-fired barbecue, drop me a line. I'll bring the beverage of your choice!
For the hoecakes, see my blog: "Johnny-I mean hoecakes!" but add a quarter cup of chopped scallions from the garnish prep while mixing the hoecake contents. The fine corn meal in the photo above was yellow, although white or blue will yield similar results. For perfectly formed cakes, I used some steel rings Melanie bought for eggs or pancakes. Be sure to grease these also!
But before you do any of that, do the hard work first!
For the garnish:
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions (1/4 of this will go into the hoecakes)
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- 3 tbs chopped cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
I shred the cabbage myself on a mandoline, dice the scallions, chop the cilantro- but I just buy the shredded carrots at the grocery store. I like my fingers intact, and the mandoline is SHARP!
After all the slicing, dicing, and chopping is done, toss the vegetables together and squeeze the lime over it.
Once the garnish is made and the hoecakes are done, make a bed of cakes and top with the pulled pork barbecue. Barbecue sauce of your choice can be mixed with the pulled pork, but with the delicious spicy sauce Melanie made tonight, a generous slathering on top of the pork seemed right. Top with the garnish,and serve the kimchi on the side. Serve it while the hoecakes are hot!
Here's our take on this classic:
1 lb shrimp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup vermouth
1 small bottle clam juice
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
2 cups Coarse Yellow Grits
Water or stock
heavy cream (optional)
- Prepare grits per our basic coarse grits recipe. Coarse grits typically take about 1 hour. (You can use quick grits if you prefer - they usually take about 30 minutes or less.)
- Peel shrimp, retaining shells. Refrigerate peeled shrimp until read to use. Boil shells in 4 cups of water for apx. 30 minutes. Drain and set stock aside.
- Heat oil in dutch oven. Add flour and stir frequently to break up clumps. Over medium heat, stir frequently for about 20 minutes until the the roux is a dark color - somewhere between milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
- Add chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and spices. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add vermouth and stir until evaporated. Add 2 cups of the shrimp stock made previously and bottle of clam juice, stirring well. Add sausage. Boil, uncovered, 15 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
- Put peeled shrimp in a ziploc bag with a small amount of flour. Shake. In a separate pan, heat oil on high. Briefly pan-fry shrimp in small batches. Add to sauce and cook 3 minutes.
- Serve over grits. Enjoy with good friends!