The Iconic Southern Breakfast

Gritty Tales

One of my all-time favorite movies is My Cousin Vinnie. I love the scene where Joe Pesci goes into a small Alabama diner with Marisa Tomei and asks the chef what a “grit” is. He describes “grits” to Pesci and the staid New Yorker receives his first lesson on the main ingredient in a classic Southern staple.

Our son Eric lives in upstate New York and he loves grits as much as I do. Since the food item is not known in his neck of the woods, he had to ask the local grocer to stock it for him. Since the grocer agreed to furnish the shelves with the product, he is now one happy camper.

I remember when my car broke down in east Texas (Trouble In Texas) and a local gas station operator towed me to his establishment in the town of Winnie. He invited me to have breakfast with his family and I was amazed to find they were serving those ” grits”. I felt right at home when he took his fried eggs and mashed them into the grits along with a glob of butter. Needless to say, I didn’t have to apologize when I followed suit.

So What Is It?

Grits is a food made from a dish of boiled cornmeal. Hominy grits are a type of grits made from hominy – corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization with the pericarp removed. 

If all that sounds complicated, it is simply a coarse ground white corn meal type food that mixes with water to form a popular dish served different ways in the South. It is now available in many parts of the United States, except maybe the Northern States.

It is used mainly for breakfast with fried eggs and an additional side dish such as hash brown potatoes or bacon or sausage. The favorite method of eating grits is chopping fried eggs into them with lots of butter and some salt.

What I Do For A Perfect Grits Breakfast

I take one part grit mixture and add it to slightly less than 4 parts boiling water. Then I throw a half of stick of real creamery butter into the boiling water. I then add a little salt and lower the heat to “simmer”and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

When they are done, they will have a firm but not stiff texture. Meanwhile, I cook either breakfast sausage or bacon on an electric griddle. When they are done, I take them off and set aside on a warming plate. I then keep the grease left and spread it around with added butter.

Then, when the grits are almost done, I fry some eggs over-easy-style. Then I remove some grits from the pot onto a dinner plate, and lay one or two fried eggs on top. After adding some bacon or sausage to the meal, I sit down to enjoy by cutting up the eggs and mixing them into the grits. Yum!

Some Of My Other Favorite Meals

  • Cheese Grits made by throwing shredded cheddar cheese into the boiling water mix.
  • Grits with Fried Calves’s Liver and Sautéed Onions on top. A tough dish to make because it is difficult to fry the liver so it is cooked just right and still be tender inside (and not dried out).
  • Shrimp and Grits. This is a popular Southern dinner that is delicious if made with care.
  • Grillades: I don’t care for this dish, but it is very popular as a Southern dinner dish.

The Downside

The basic breakfast meal above can easily top 1000 calories. If you are watching your weight blossom, you have to exercise portion control. A pile of the stuff with 2 eggs and breakfast sauce or hash browns can break the diet bank.

I recently had a Fiesta Omelet with a bowl of grits and a big serving of hash browns along with 2 slices of toast and jelly including orange juice at Waffle House. I also finished half of my wife’s ham and cheese omelet and her potatoes. When I figured the damage later on my diet chart, the number hit 1113 calories. I am embarrassed to say that I got sick that evening and moaned all night. Yikes!

I didn’t even have breakfast the next day and waited until 4:00 pm to partake of my first meal. I am finding out I can’t over-eat like I used to and avoid stomach wrenching pain later. That’s too bad, because I love grits and wish I could have them more often. Oh well, so much for my being fat!

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