Grits have finally gotten cachet, says Regina Schrambling in the Los Angeles Times. In the bad old days, “America was mostly sentenced to supermarket grits—white and smooth and as gutsy as Cream of Wheat.” Now genuine grits are widely available. The mystery is why chefs aren’t
incorporating them into dishes more often. Perhaps they are still too closely associated with breakfast. But try them some day with buttery leeks and shiitakes, “and you will never settle for mashed potatoes again.” Authentic, or so-called artisanal, grits are sometimes labeled
stone-ground or old-fashioned. Grits with flecks of color in them are sold under the trademarked name Speckled Heart. Grits go well with just about everything Southern or Southwestern, and even many
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French recipes, including duck confit and those incorporating such ingredients as andouille sausage, shrimp, crab, and beans. This dish combines the best of both Old and New Worlds.
Recipe of the week
Barbecue-Braised Duck Legs
With Garlic Grits
4 duck legs
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarse grits
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups Syrah or other red wine
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small dried hot chili
1 small onion, diced
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Creole or other coarse-grain mustard
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Season duck legs well on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange skin-side up in shallow baking dish just large enough to hold all comfortably. Roast 1 hour.
While legs cook, bring 4 cups of water and 1 tsp salt to rolling boil in heavy saucepan. Stir in grits and minced garlic; stir until smooth. Lower heat and simmer, stirring often, until grits are thickened and cooked through. Add more water if mixture gets too thick and dry. Hold in
Combine red wine, 1-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, crushed garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and chili in saucepan and heat to simmer. Drain off fat from
legs, reserving 1 tbsp. Pour wine mixture around legs so meat is immersed but skin exposed. Return legs to rack set in upper third of oven and roast 30 minutes. When legs are cooked, remove from oven; transfer to platter and keep warm. Heat reserved fat in saucepan and sauté onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, maple syrup, mustard, remaining Worcestershire sauce. Pour braising liquid into saucepan; raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. (Makes
1/2 cup sauce.)
Arrange 1 or 2 duck legs on each serving plate. Spoon grits alongside. Strain sauce, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Remove excess fat from surface. Ladle a little sauce over duck and grits, passing remainder at the table. Serves 4.
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