Here in the United States, grits are commonly considered a southern breakfast food. However, grits have a long, varied history, both in American southern cooking and in international cuisine. Even better, they're inexpensive, filling, and very versatile, as they readily absorb the flavors of whatever broth is used to cook them.
Native Americans relied heavily on corn grits, as did the people of Mexico. In Mexico, a thicker version, called polenta, is the basis of many dishes. When the Spaniards arrived, they added their ideas to the cultural pot, as Europeans have similar grain based dishes that translated well to the corn based polenta or grits. When Africans came over on slave ships, they quickly recognized hominy grits as the ideal vehicle for their own porridge based recipes, and the southern love for grits was established.
While corn is native to the western hemisphere, other grains were originally used for grits in the eastern hemisphere. With the discovery of the foods of the "New World," many of the "Old World" countries adopted the corn based grits as part of their staple diet.
With the hearty, gluten free grain inexpensively available to us, it makes sense to explore some of the many tasty ways people around the world serve grits or polenta.
One southern American favorite is Shrimp and Grits, a savory mix of meats, vegetables and cheese served on a bed of grits.
This Basic Italian Polenta recipe features cheeses, and any sauce you might serve over pasta.
Rachel Ray's Spanish Chicken Stew with Manchego Polenta is a tantalizing meal that cooks up in less than an hour.
In a hurry? Serve Del Monty Beef Stew over a bed of instant grits, for a hasty, gluten free "meal in a minute."
Try this quick and easy version of "Indian Pudding" for breakfast or a snack.
Want more ideas for grits? Visit this page of grits recipes, and be sure to do your own search for grits and polenta recipes.
Remember, if you can serve it over rice or noodles, you can serve it over grits. For quicker preparation, you can try instant grits or buy pre-cooked polenta in the Latino section of your grocery store.
Corn grits and polenta make a tasty alternative to wheat based pastas and cereals for people who must eat a gluten free diet.
What are your favorite grits or polenta recipes?