YIELD: About 4 cups
TIME: 50 minutes following an overnight soak; 90 minutes without an overnight soak
Created in the tradition of the stone-ground, hand-milled grits of the Antebellum era, Anson Mills coarse grits have a large particle size that imparts a toothsome texture and pronounced corn flavor. Coarse grits do take time to cook—about 1 hour, at least—but are any cook’s first choice when served as a stand-alone dish or as a complement to entrées such as fish, greens, or eggs. They make beautiful grits cakes, too.
It would be remiss of us not to mention that Anson Mills grits benefit enormously from soaking overnight in water before being cooked. Not only is the cooking time shorter for soaked versus unsoaked grits, but the finished texture is also superior because the corn particles experience less trauma during cooking and better hold their shape.
Soaking grits in water overnight and cooking them in their soaking liquid reduces their cooking time by about 50 percent. In real terms, this means 1 cup of grits, unsoaked, cooks in about 90 minutes; soaked overnight, they cook in about 50 minutes. Either way, don’t rush these grits. If you do and the grits boil, their aromatic oils will emulsify, coat the larger particles of corn, and prevent the particles from softening in the water. They’ll take even longer to cook.
EQUIPMENT MISE EN PLACE
For this recipe, you will need a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan (ideally, one with gently flared sides called a Windsor pan), a small saucepan, a fine tea strainer, and a wooden spoon.
6 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Coarse Grits
Spring or filtered water
Fine sea salt
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the grits in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably a Windsor saucepan) and cover them with 2½ cups water. Stir once. Allow the grits to settle a full minute, tilt the pan, and skim off and discard the chaff and hulls with a fine tea strainer. Cover and let the grits soak overnight at room temperature. If you are not soaking the grits, proceed directly to the next step.
Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the first starch takes hold, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover the pan. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and keep hot. Every 10 minutes or so, uncover the grits and stir them; each time you find them thick enough to hold the spoon upright, stir in a small amount of the hot water, adding about 1½ cups water or more in 4 or 5 additions. Cook until the grits are creamy and tender throughout, but not mushy, and hold their shape on a spoon, about 50 minutes if the grits were soaked or about 90 minutes if they weren’t. Add 1 teaspoon of salt halfway through the cooking time. To finish, stir in the butter with vigorous strokes. Add more salt, if desired, and the pepper.