I was standing in my kitchen, on a Saturday after my farmers market run, putting everything in its proper place while I made my plan of attack for the day. Stacked up on the counter were a dozen ears of corn, destined to be blanched, stripped and frozen in little baggies. Next to that was a lovely bag of freshly ground Delta Grind grits, also destined for the freezer. It was such a lovely tableau. As I went about my business, peeling tomatoes for tomato butter, soaking field peas to be pickled and starting a batch of peach-basil jam, with fig, bourbon and vanilla bean jam already simmering in the crockpot, I just kept thinking about that corn and those grits and how good they would be together. I decided I’d whip a batch of plain grits and stir in some kernels for dinner. But as the day progressed, I just kept thinking there must be some really creative way to meld the flavors. As I peeled peaches, diced onions, chopped basil, shucked corn, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I went to the freezer to make room for my next additions and realized I already had quite a lot of corn in there, so maybe I should whip up a batch of fresh corn buttermilk biscuit dough for the freezer. That’s when it hit me. My secret to those lovely biscuits – pureed fresh corn – would add that layer of corn freshness to a pot of grits. I was right. I started with a small portion, just to serve myself, and frankly ate that for dinner with some field peas the next weekend, and another night as well. So I set to work refining and codifying the recipe, and here it is.
These grits have the wonderful, soft creaminess you look for in grits, with that lovely texture and bite that comes from traditional stone-ground varieties. I highly recommend you seek them out. Adding the pureed corn to the cooking liquid creates a sweet, fresh undertone that is bright with corn flavor. The kernels stirred in cook just enough to release their own sweet secret, while adding an extra layer of texture and bite. Serve these for breakfast or as a side to a roasted or grilled pork loin. And I can’t help think these would make a truly special base for shrimp and grits.
Fresh Corn Grits
4 ears fresh corn, shucked and silked
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup butter
1 Tablespoon salt
1 cup stone ground yellow grits
Butter, for serving
Cut the kernels off two cobs of corn and place them in a blender with 1 cup of the milk and blend to a fine puree. Really give it some time in the blender; you want it as smooth as you can make it. Pour the puree through a strainer into a large Dutch oven, pressing to get out all the liquid. Stir in the remaining milk, add broth, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Be generous with the salt, it is hard to get grits properly salted after they are cooked. Whisk the grits into the boiling liquid, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer stirring frequently. Cut the kernels off the remaining 2 cobs of corn, and stir them in while the grits are cooking. Cook, stirring frequently to keep the grits from sticking until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grits are tender, but with a little bite. Be careful while you are stirring, grits spit, so stand back aways.
Serve immediately with a good pat of better melting over the top.
Serves 4, or 6 as a side