Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kiss My Grits

I wish I could go around town saying that.

“Kiss my grits.”

I mean seriously, talk about a perfect phrase. And nobody here uses it. “How yous doin?”, “Hey, asshole, get out of the freakin’ way," “Yankees suck,” “How ‘bout them Eagles,” “We’re goin’ down the casinas or the Shore.”

These phrases – which illustrate the top-notch grammatical education we receive in my beloved Garden State - are in heavy rotation in South Jersey.

But, “Kiss my grits,” now that truly is a unique gem.

So, I shouted it out to The Husband upon serving him a fab dinner of: Chili-Rubbed Flank Steak, Sauteed Zucchini and Red Peppers, and Cheesy Grits with Scallions.

He cracked up for about five minutes.

And he loved din, so Mission Accomplished.

For some reason, I was jonesing (do people still say that?) for grits.

Random, I KNOW!

I didn’t even know what grits were until my 20s. Growing up, my mom was definitely NOT serving grits. Meatballs, lasagna, grilled steak, roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken, clams and spaghetti (or as my speech-impediment riddled self said as a child, clams and pasghetti), spinach-stuffed flounder – these things appeared weekly on the dinner table.

But cuisine from the far-reaches of the world – such as the Continental U.S. South – were not served in mi childhood casa.

Although, Mom did shake it up once in a while with taco night (yummy) and beef stroganoff when my dad was away on bizness (Dad is not a fan of shrooms) and some delish stir-fries. She even has a wok!

My parents thought I needed to be committed to an asylum when I told them I was going out for sushi with my Carnegie Mellon friends in Pittsburgh in the nineties.

They would phone me with these words of wisdom:

“You’re going to DIE from that, Susan.”

“Go get a steak. You need to eat real food. Listen to your father.”

Anyway, the first time I made grits was for a brunch I had for my best Hammonton girls – Sarah, Lauren and Jenny – a few years ago.

The grits were hella good, and I was hooked.

This week, I was inspired to make them for a side during dinner. And, so below is my concoction. I used quick-cooking grits. (Don’t judge me! I work too, damn it.)

You of course can use the slow-cooking variety. They just take longer. Duh.

Also, I urge you to embrace the flank steak aka London broil. Come to think of it, my mom rocked a London broil back in the day. I’m having major flashbacks of the eighties right now…..Bill Cosby’s sweaters are burning on my brain.

First of all, flank or round steak is super cheap and it takes minutes to cook. I used my grill pan, but you can also go the broiler route. I’m not a fan of scrubbing the broiler pan. Scrubbing broiler pans is made of evil. Anything that requires Brillo, cursing, 10 minutes of my time and elbow grease is made of evil.

Back to happier thoughts: my zuccs and peppas are awesome. Seriously, these people who claim to hate on vegetables - I just don’t know what to say. Free your mind.

I have major love for the grits. If you’re bored of potatoes or rice or pasta as a side, go for the grits. They will rock your world.

Chili-Rubbed Flank Steak
1 ½ to 2 pounds flank or round steak, aka London broil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. McCormick Grillmates Montreal Steak seasoning
2 tsp. garlic powder
Drizzle of oil, vegetable or canola

Mix chili and garlic powders with Montreal Steak seasoning in a small bowl.

Using a pastry brush, brush a drizzle of oil all over the steak on both sides. Pat the seasoning mixture all over the steak. Let rest for about 10-15 minutes.

When ready to cook, drizzle a little oil onto your grill pan. Using a paper towel, rub the oil over the entire pan.

Preheat the pan over medium-high heat.

Grill steak for 6-7 minutes on each side.

Remove steak from pan to a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice against the grain into thin strips when ready to serve.

Makes four servings.

Sauteed Zucchini and Red Peppers
2 zucchini, sliced
1 large red pepper, chopped into 1-inch pieces
½ red onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
¼ tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive oil

In a large pan, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add zucchini, peppers and onion. Saute for about five minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes more.

Serve hot.

Cheesy Grits with Scallions
2 ¼ cups water
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup Quaker Quick Grits (NOT INSTANT)
2 ounces pepper jack cheese, chopped
3 scallions, finely sliced
¼ cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.

Add salt.

Slowly pour grits into the water and stir. Lower heat to medium-low so that the mixture simmers. Cover the saucepan. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add half-and-half. Stir.

Add cheese and scallions. Stir. Add pepper to taste, and more salt if desired.

Makes four servings.


  1. Grits are popular in the south. They are made from ground dried corn or hominy. They are similar to polenta, if you've ever had that.

    Old-fashioned grits are coursely ground and take a while to cook - like about an hour.

    Quick-cooking are ground more finely and cook in half the time.

    Hope that helps.