Fish

Fish

By
Brad McDonald
Contains
9 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 1849497206
Photographer
Andy Sewell

On grits

Corn is a fascinating plant, with a rich mythological history as told through Mesoamerican and Native American cultures. Now that I live in a country that has a low threshold of understanding regarding corn, especially when it comes to what makes a good ear of the stuff, I often feel like an evangelist preacher intent on converting all the lost souls I can reach.

I was raised on corn by both sides of my family. My father, from whom the Mississippi part of my blood comes, loves sweet, bicolour corn. He always keeps bags of it frozen, fresh from the summer, when he’s not eating it in season. My mother’s family hails from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I often visited with the Amish community during holidays as a kid. They cherished Silver Queen – so named for the shade of kernels it produces. Yet when we ate grits anywhere, we always had the same type: instant. I don’t pass judgement on anyone who likes instant grits. Given the right time and place for eating it, even the instant version has its place in Southern culinary history books. If you don’t believe me, then just visit any waffle house restaurant next time you travel the South. I didn’t taste my first spoonful of real grits until I was nearly 20 years old. Revelation and betrayal ran across my palate as I took that first bite. Now, thanks to the work of Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina, I am able to bring a consistent supply of coarsely stone-ground heritage corn grits into the UK.

Many people ask me if they can substitute polenta for grits. You can – in all my Southern politeness, I suppose. The two are both corn. But they are different products. The major distinction is the way they are ground. To make polenta, the dried corn receives multiple passes under the grindstone and is therefore finer and more uniform in size. Grits are ground to a coarse texture through only one pass of the stone and can be sifted out to various sizes and degrees of coarseness. When each is cooked properly, they will be completely different texturally.

The flavour of both grits and polenta changes depending on the variety of corn, with some types characterised by varying layers of flavour. White and yellow grits are the two most common colours readily available in the South but there are many others, including red and blue varieties. I’ve always preferred to cook with coarse white corn grits. You will have to take what you can get in the UK but it’s worth checking out online suppliers for a little more variety.

Recipes in this Chapter

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