Haters (people from New England) have said that grits are too “mushy,” but mush can be a glorious thing. Sometimes you don’t need texture or contrast; sometimes you just need something that’s warm, delicious, and scoopable. Sometimes (mornings), you don’t want to chew that hard.
That’s why grits are the perfect breakfast food. They don’t demand anything from the eater — all you have to do is scoop them into your yawning mouth. Grits give and give, warming you from the inside out and easing you into the harsh reality that is another day trapped in this mortal coil. They’re not even that hard to cook — especially if you make them in the pressure cooker. (Sometimes I make a big batch and eat them throughout the week, which purists do not approve of, but oh well.)
And while there is a time (brunch) for texturally contrasting proteins like shrimp and bacon, both of those require a few extras by way of prep work and cooking, while ‘nduja melts right in, almost as if it were designed for grits.
‘Nduja is meaty, kind of fruity, wonderfully spiced, and a perfect match for a bowl of creamy corn porridge. The fermented pork spread adds heat, salt, and cured meatiness, and demands absolutely nothing in return. You can drop in little morsels of the stuff to punctuate the grits with burst of flavour, or you can aggressively mix it in until your grits are permeated with the flavour of ‘nduja. (You can also do this with tomato sauce — it slaps.)
If you can’t find true ‘nduja — it’s Spanish, and a little harder to find than Italian charcuterie — you have some options. La Querica makes a pretty good dupe, or you can make your own ‘nduja-style spread with prosciutto and Calabrian chiles.