The Cookin’ O’ the Green….Grits, that is!

Green Grits
Green Grits

Green Grits with Cabbage & Smoked Pork Loin

St. Patrick’s Day has once again arrived.  Growing up in Southern California the extent to which it was a holiday was pretty much limited to making sure you wore something green to school to prevent being pinched for not having green.  Is that still done?  I don’t think I’ve heard mention of that in ages!

Little did I know that one day I’d be moving to a city that hosted what’s considered the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the city.  The city of Savannah swells to about 3-4 times its normal size during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.  The hallmark of the celebration is the parade which started in the 1800’s as Irish Catholic families would walk down Abercorn Street after mass on St. Patrick’s day.  Fast forward to modern times and we have a parade featuring entries from all over the world, the length of which is about 3 hours in length!  Schools let out when the holiday falls on a weekday, most non-hospitality businesses close and people gather to watch the parade either live or in person.

Grits are a mainstay of many a Southern breakfast.  As with anything, grits can be great when they’re well-prepared or downright nasty when not.  Grits don’t take a vacation just because it’s St. Patrick’s Day….they get dressed up in green too!   Green Grits will frequently be a St. Patrick’s Day menu offering for breakfast or brunch.  Unfortunately what makes them green is usually the addition of copious amounts of green food coloring.  In the following recip I’ve replaced the food coloring with the addition of pureed green onions that have been simmered in chicken stock.

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Green Grits

Savannah Georgia is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.  Breakfast and brunch menus in the city are likely to feature Green Grits.  Unfortunately for the guests at those gatherings, the “green” is the result of copious amounts of green food coloring added to the grits.  In this recipe I’ve played off the traditional Irish dish known as “champ” which features green onions simmered in milk and then mixed with creamy mashed potatoes.  In this case, grits replace the mashed potatoes.  Serve these for breakfast, brunch or supper.

 Yield:  6 Servings
2 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 bunches green onions (approximately 1 ½ cups), finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced in half
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Irish cheddar cheese
¼ cup finely chopped parsley

 In a 2 quart saucepan, combine the milk, grits, salt, pepper, and onion powder.  Set aside to allow the grits to begin to soak up the liquid, do not heat the pan.  Allow grits to soak for 1 hour.

While grits are soaking, combine the chicken stock, finely sliced green onions, and garlic cloves.  Bring to a simmer and simmer until green onions and garlic are very soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow green onion mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.  Puree green onion mixture using an immersion blender or a food processor.   Pour the pureed green onion mixture into the grits and place over medium heat.  Bring grits to a gentle simmer and then turn down to the lowest setting on the stove and allow grits to cook slowly for one hour.  If the grits get too thick, add more stock, water, or milk and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add the butter, heavy cream and cheddar cheese.  Cook until the cheese has melted into the grits.  Stir in the finely chopped parsley and taste to adjust seasoning.

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