"What's a grit?" is a question I get asked quite often. Well, dang. If you don't know what grits are, you aren't going to understand anything about me! Okay, I'm just kidding, but boy do I love grits. I'm a Southern girl so it's pretty much to be expected. You can take a girl out of the South, but you can't take the grits away from the girl.
I can't even find grits here in Vancouver. It's lame. When I was in Atlanta about a year and a half ago, I bought 6 huge bags of grits to bring back with me. I still have a little bit left, but I'm almost out even though I try not to eat them too often. I even took a photo of all of the grits in the store because I was so excited to see so many different boxes when I can't find them anywhere here!
Okay, so for those of you that are still wondering what the heck is a grit, here's a quick lesson. Grits are made from a type of corn called hominy corn. In the South we also eat hominy, but I've never seen it anywhere else. Click here to see what hominy looks like. So, the hominy is ground coarsely and then boiled and becomes grits. I have no idea why it's called that.
Keep in mind that polenta IS NOT the same as grits, no matter what the package says. Polenta is also made from corn, but not the same kind of corn. Polenta is awesome, but it won't taste right and you'll wonder what you did wrong when you cook them.
Usually you put lots of margarine and salt and pepper on grits and eat them like that. It's a savory food. The omnivores will put things in it that I don't want to think about, but I like to eat it plain (Earth Balance and salt and pepper) or add some of Frontier's Bac'uns to it as well. Yum! Now, though, my favorite way to eat grits is the Vegan Brunch way. It's a little rough for me to accept that a yankee could improve on a Southern staple. (I love you, Isa, but still!) No matter, I do love garlic like a cat loves sleeping. I think you could even use this recipe as a bit of a side dish for dinner if you're having a bit of soul food or something, but it's also great for breakfast.
I like to add a bit of chili-garlic Cholula to this as well. It adds such a nice extra flavor. If you've never tried Cholula, I highly recommend it. It's not actually very hot, it's got a really nice depth of flavor with just a hint of spiciness. It's great for adding a little extra punch of flavor even if you're not someone who likes hot sauce. If you can get it, try the chili-garlic flavor first. I can't get it that particular flavor here in Vancouver, but I have an awesome friend who sends me a stash of a few bottles at a time from California so I can still have it. It's just that good. Even James, who doesn't like hot sauce, likes it.
Now, on to the recipe! I actually make it slightly different than Isa does, but using the same ingredients, so I'm mashing up her way and mine in this. This recipe makes enough for 4 people, so if it's just you, cut the recipe by 1/4 so you're not swimming in grits. Unless you like that sort of thing, and then in that case, go for it.
Jalapeno Garlic Grits
1 cup dry grits
Vegetable broth (use the amount of broth in replacement of the amount of water your box of grits says to use, probably about 3 Cups for this amount of grits.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced (or you can use 1/4 C of jalapenos from a jar, chopped up)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (I usually add about 1-2 Tablespoons nooch per bowl of grits because I'm crazy like that)
1 teaspoon salt (if you're using broth with salt in it, you might want to skip this)
pepper, to taste
In a medium pot that has a lid, saute over medium heat the garlic in the olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add the jalapenos and saute for another minute or so and then add the vegetable broth and grits. Stir everything up, put the lid on the pot, and bring the grits to a soft boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Here is where the time varies - check your package of grits to be sure, but it's usually about 5 minutes that you want to simmer the grits with the lid on. About halfway through that time, add the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, stir everything up once and put the lid back on. You just want to make sure that everything stays mixed together and stays nice and creamy. Once your 5 minutes are up, remove the pot from the heat and stir again.
At this point, taste the grits to make sure there is enough nooch and salt for your liking. Add a bit more of that stuff if you need to. Remember, the grits will thicken a bit as they start cooling. Everyone seems to like their grits to be a different texture. Depending what kind of mood I'm in sometimes I like them thicker or thinner than other times. You know what's awesome about grits? You can always add more water to thin them out or cook them a bit longer to thicken them up. So add more water if things are too thick for your liking or cook them a bit more if they're too runny.
Dish those bad boys into bowls and dig in! If you're feeling like adding a bit of extra awesomeness, add some of that chili-garlic Cholula I was talking about earlier. Mmmmmm.