Creamy Grits with Fresh Corn
I was listening to the radio this morning and Kathy Gunst was talking about all the wonderful ways we can use summer corn and her description of creamy corn soup made my mouth water. I immediately went to the store and bought some beautiful Silver Queen corn. I decided that mixing the fresh corn with some grits might be the “corniest” dish I could make to really highlight that sweet summer corn flavor. This is a pretty basic dish with only a few ingredients and it turns out so creamy and sweet. It’s so delicious, I can’t even put it into words….it‘s just really good. You begin by boiling some corn on the cob and then making a broth to cook the grits in. It may seem laborious but the outcome is worth it.
Start by removing the husks of 4-5 ears of corn and adding the corn to a big pot and cover with water (this is up for debate, some people add the corn after the water is boiling…I don’t really think it matters). Bring the pot to a boil and allow to simmer for a minute or two. I don’t like to cook the corn very long. With a set of tongs remove the corn and set aside. Turn off the burner. Place a large colander over the top of the pot of water. Working with one corn cob at a time, hold it in the center of the colander and use a paring knife to carefully slice the corn off the cob. I like to do it this way so that any corn milk drips into the pot of water and isn’t wasted. Now set the corn kernels aside and place the cobs back into the pot of water. Add a roughly chopped Vidalia onion to the pot of water and a tsp of salt. Bring the pot back to a boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until its reduced to about 2 - 2.5 cups of broth.
After allowing the broth to cool for a moment remove the corn cobs and onions. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the broth through the strainer to remove any unwanted silks or corn bits from the pot. Once you have strained the broth return it to your pot, you should have around 2 cups. It will a beautiful yellow/gold broth. Add one cup of grits and bring to a simmer. Stir often scraping the bottom to make sure its not burning. Add another tsp of salt and continue stirring while the grits thicken up. Once it starts getting quite thick like oatmeal, add a 1/2 cup of milk and stir it in. Continue cooking and stirring over low simmer until it has thickened again. Taste with a spoon and see if the texture is right. Regular grits take about 20 minutes to cook and stone ground grits can take much longer. Keep stirring and adding splashes of milk until you are satisfied. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp of butter and the corn kernels. Add a dash of fresh ground pepper. A sprinkle of parsley or your favorite herb is a great idea too. Enjoy!
** A note about grits, do not use instant grits…they will turn to mush! Quaker grits are fine but make sure they are not instant. If you can find locally milled grits, they will taste even better. I like Wades Mill in my area. If the label says Stone Ground, you must first quickly soak them in water and allow the chaff to float to the top, scoop out the chaff (hard dried husk pieces). I have made the mistake of forgetting to remove it in the past and you will have crunchy bits that are annoying in your final product. It just takes a minute and is worth the time. Otherwise, buy regular grits : )
If you want a nice monochromatic dish use white corn with white grits or yellow corn with yellow grits : )