We moved to the south when I was 8 and that’s when I discovered grits. My parents always compared grits with wallpaper paste. And yes, poorly prepared, grits can easily taste glue-y. But I always liked even mediocre grits because they tasted pretty great with a hefty sprinkle of black pepper and a pat of butter or two melted into them. But these creamy corn grits really change the grits game. There is not a spec of butter or cheese in this dish. All of the rich, creamy flavor comes from using fresh ears of cob and getting every bit of flavor out of them. This is a dish to make only when you can get decent fresh corn.
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To squeeze all of the flavor out of the corn, this recipe calls for a heap of freshly cut corn kernels. After cutting the corn off the cob, you’ll scrape your knife along the cob to release it’s flavorful milky juice. (Listen, I know you all just said, “That’s what she said.” And maybe that’s why I typed that phrase.) Finally, you’ll simmer the grits in a quick corn stock. It all adds up to a dish that’s cornier than a dad joke.
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There is an added bit of flavor from just a couple of strips of bacon–but I think these grits would be delicious even without the pork fat. In fact, you could easily make these vegan by substituting non-animal fat for sautéing the onion.
The final dish feels like a cross between grits, corn pudding, and creamed corn. It’s a recipe to try even if you think you don’t like grits. I think you might change your mind.
Creamy Corn Grits
- 4 ears corn fresh corn is required here!
- 2 slices bacon cut into small pieces; ~¼-inch dice
- 2 large scallions or 4 small scallions; whites and greens sliced thinly and divided.
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal, grits, or polenta do not use instant grits
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- To prepare the corn, remove husks and silk. Cut the corn kernels off of each cob and set aside in a bowl. Then run your knife across the cut cobs with slight pressure. This will scrape out any leftover corn solids and milky juice. Scoop this into a small bowl using the back of the knife to help you gather all of the liquid. Finally, place the corn cobs in a large pot. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the cobs and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a heavy simmer, cover, and let the corn stock simmer for about half an hour.
- Place the bacon in a medium pot or Dutch oven. Place the pot on a burner over medium heat and cook the bacon until it's browned. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.Once the bacon is brown and it's fat is rendered, add the white part of the scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes until the scallions start to soften.
- Add the grits and salt to the pot and stir to coat in the bacon fat. Then pour in 4 cups of the corn stock you made. If you are a little short of the 4 cups, just add a bit of water until you have 4 cups of liquid total. Whisk the grits and liquid well. Stir in the juice and solids from scraping the corn, but not the cut kernels. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a very low simmer. Cover while simmering, but you will need to stir about every 5-7 minutes to prevent the bottom from sticking/burning. Simmer for 35-45 minutes until the grits are softened. Once the grits are cooked through, stir in the corn kernels and scallion greens.Serve.
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