First produced by American Indians from crushed grains of corn, grits are used in a variety of Southern dishes today. They're easy to prepare; it's what you add to them that can turn a regular meal into something memorable.
Plain grits have no cholesterol or sodium, they're a good source of fiber, and they're very low in fat and sugar. They also contain iron, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. Because they soak up flavors, just a little butter or cheese, salt, and pepper are all that's needed to produce a great-tasting dish.
You can buy locally produced grits — yellow or white — directly from Byrd Mill in Ashland (888-897-3336 or byrdmill.com); Ellwood Thompson's Local Market also carries the company's stone-ground grits.
This personal favorite was contributed by my parents, Pat and Kristi Dannelly, who've been cooking dishes featuring grits for our family for years. Their recipes always produce crowd pleasers that leave everyone full. Though they live in Maryland today, my father, Pat Dannelly, grew up in Florida and has also lived in Atlanta. An accountant by trade, he spends much of his spare time in the kitchen. "Southerners love pork, grits and barbecue," he says of this recipe, which he and my mother developed. "Why not combine all three in this classic Southern dish that everyone will enjoy?"
Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Spicy Grits
Serves 8 to 10
- 2 (3/4 to 1 pound) pork tenderloins
- 3/4 cup of soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup of red-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of crushed red-pepper flakes
- 2 cups of coarse, stone-ground grits
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of reduced-fat chicken broth
- 2 cups of shredded pepper jack cheese
- Your favorite barbecue sauce
Combine the pork tenderloins, soy sauce, vegetable oil, red-wine vinegar, garlic and red-pepper flakes in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and let them marinate for 4 hours or overnight. Preheat an outdoor grill. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and cook them by indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Transfer the pork to a platter and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving it.
Meanwhile, cook your grits according to the package instructions, using the water and chicken broth. Once the grits are cooked, add the shredded pepper jack, then salt and pepper to taste. The grits should be thick, not runny, so that they hold their shape when scooped onto a plate. Slice the pork thinly on the diagonal. Place a heaping scoop of grits on a plate. Layer slices of pork over the grits and drizzle barbecue sauce over the top.