Portland, Oregon — the city in which I reside — is obsessed with Southern food. I mean, I get it. Southern food is good, but a lot of the restaurateurs who prepare it have a hard time resisting the urge to “elevate” it, which misses the point of the cuisine entirely. (I once found a whole sprig of rosemary in my sausage gravy, if you can believe it.)
Most Southern cuisine is optimised already: designed to taste good without the need for expensive ingredients. So imagine my surprise when I found myself simmering grits in various stocks, trying to make them “better.” The whole point of grits is that they taste like corn, and simmering them in ham stock (a good stock) was obscuring the corn flavour, which was frankly disrespectful to grits, my family and myself.
I will never understand people who don’t like eating grits, but I do understand people who don’t like making grits. Like preparing risotto and polenta, the process usually involves a good bit of stirring, and I simply hate standing still in front of a stove. The good news is you...Read more
But then I remembered corn cob stock — that golden stock made from spent cobs. It’s always made a nice vegetarian ramen broth base, but I think making corn grits even cornier is its truest, highest calling, for there is no such thing as “too much” corn flavour. (You’re not “elevating” the grits, you’re honouring them by extracting as much flavour as you can from the bones of their ancestors.) The recipe for corn cob stock can be found here, but it’s really just a matter of simmering (or pressure cooking) kernel-less cobs until the water takes on a nice golden hue, then straining out the cobs.
Then, simply cook your grits however you usually cook them — I’ve been cooking mine in a pressure cooker — substituting water with cob stock. I wouldn’t call them “elevated,” because that word sucks. But I would refer to grits cooked in a stock made from corn bones as “intensified” (and then I would smother them in cheese).