Friday, March 9, 2012

Brown Rice Grits with Delectable Variations....

Hello Folks!

Having a chance to regroup for a moment has given me opportunity to do some more creative research in the kitchen. I may be late on the scene, but I recently discovered brown rice grits and I will never regret trying it!
What a neat way to eat a Southern favorite!

I have consumed many bowls of grits during my lifetime so far. Yet, I have to admit this is the first I have enjoyed quite this much. Perhaps it is the texture. Someone once coined the phrase 'mouth-feel' when it comes to food texture, and it is pretty important. Brown rice grits are a bit smoother and slightly more fine than traditional grits, and they cream up more easily. Not to leave out those who prefer a "gritty grit", they still vary in texture depending on how long they cook just like the regular stuff!

What I love of course is the ability to try different things even with this. A bowl of grits is a blank canvas no matter how you spoon it out. The first time I tried it, I'd just simmered a big batch of chicken stock and had extra mirepoix on hand. So there was the richness and volume of the stock with which to thin out the grits as needed, the flavor of the mirepoix, and a few spices for good measure. As for serious creaminess with a different flavor, I actually made it with almond-coconut milk. That was a combination I am looking forward to again.

Additionally, I'm using up the last of some more hardy winter veggies and made my favorite butternut squash soup. The next time I made the grits, I combined the two. It was the best of both worlds folks, or something like comfort food heaven in a bowl. This combo is probably not a flavor for everyone. But my "taster panel" was in hardy agreement! On this variation, I would say to really whip the soup in a blender when making it so that it has a nice and slightly frothy texture to it. Brown rice grits are a bit lighter, so heaviness may not carry over as well. Also, if you are not a fan of nutmeg go easy on it here. I use almond butter in my squash soup for richness and texture usually, and it gave a nice body to the combo, along with some greek yogurt. This is a good place for a dash of cayenne, and a good dose of fresh thyme or oregano. But pretty much everyone has their own way to make butternut squash soup, so I won't impose. Curries, saffron, thai spices, roasted red peppers or even a balanced tapenade could work....the possibilities are endless. After all, this is rice masquerading behind the cape! Suffice it to say that if the bowl of grits on the table has become a bit 'piqued', boring, or anemic, try something new and see!

Brown Rice Grits
Yields at least 8-10 servings...(depending on how much you eat!)

3:1 Ratio of liquid to grits

If mirepoix is not already cooked, sweat 50% onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery for a few minutes in a shallow saute pan, until tender. (6 oz onion, 3 oz each carrots and celery, diced small - 1/4 inch)

3 cups or 24 oz almond-coconut milk
Bring the milk  to a boil in at least a 3 quart pot
Add 1cup of brown rice grits, 2oz butter, and 1 teaspoon salt, reduce to simmer.

Let simmer the minimum 7 minutes, adding mirepoix halfway through.
Use 1/4 cup or 2oz traditional veggie, chicken, or other stock as needed to thin out the grits.
They thicken pretty quickly, but take time to cook.
Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne, a dash of nutmeg (optional), and 1 teaspoon oregano.
Continue to simmer until desired texture is reached. 10-12 minutes total for most folks, up to 15 minutes or so for a creamier texture. So basically the longer this cooks; the more flavorful it becomes with the addition of the stock every so often.

Butternut Squash Variation...

Nothing too technical about this, I made the grits with milk the same as before, however added 8 oz (1cup) cold butternut squash soup, 2 oz thick greek yogurt, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon, and paprika. Here I wanted a bit more savory to balance out the sweet reminders of nutmeg and cinnamon. So, 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt were added to this.

Enjoy! from Deelish!

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