The chef, Jacques Pepin, was asked what dishes he would request for his last meal. He said one of his choices would be hand-picked freshly-shelled peas straight from the garden with butter and sea salt. This shows a great culinary experience doesn’t have to involve exotic ingredients, dozens of spices, and complicated techniques. It can be a simple dish. As a matter of fact, in the case of Pepin’s peas, any further additions would detract from this basic but perfect concoction.
Another Great but Simple Dish
I recently tried a new recipe for fresh corn grits. The list of ingredients was small: corn grated off the cob, milk, pecan butter, and salt & pepper. But no matter how much I analyzed it, I couldn’t think of a way it could be improved. I thought it was perfect, and I found the experience of eating it to be almost transcendent. Chewier than regular grits, I also thought the taste was far superior in its pure form.
By definition there will be many people (especially those from the South) who will tell you this is not a recipe for grits. Their traditional dish is made from dried corn that is ground into a corn meal and then boiled in water. The main flavor of grits usually comes from other flavorings. Our recipe is cooked in milk instead of being boiled in water giving it a creamierconsistency. It should also not be confused with mush, polenta, or hasty pudding. By contrast, all of the ingredients in this recipe are fresh – nothing is processed. In a sense, we’ve taken the “grit” out of grits.
Make Grits from Late-Season Ear Corn
When the ear corn season draws to a close, and much of what is for sale is a bit too mature, this is a good recipe to try. It’s a great side dish with chicken or fish, and it also goes well with another simple combination: bread that has just been taken out of the oven and served with homemade butter.
Fresh Corn Grits
1/2 cupPecans (1 package if 1/2 cup)
1/2 tspCanola oil
6 large earsFresh ear corn straight from the field
1/4 cupMilk (whole)
To tasteSalt and pepper
Ahead of time (should take about 30 minutes):
- Process 1/2 cup of pecans (toasted) in a mini food processor.
- Add canola oil until you get the consistency of soft butter (about 2 minutes).
- Shuck the corn clean of hair. Wash and cut off the ends.
- Using a box grater, grate corn into a metal bowl. ‘Should end up with about 2 cups of pulp and milk. Run the back of a knife over each cob to extract the sweet milk left behind.
Enter Target Time ________________.
Time: ___________ (15 Minutes before target time)
In a saucepan (3-quart for 2-4 servings), simmer the grated corn with the 1/4 cup of milk over med-low heat for about 4 minutes.
Fold in the pecan butter. Original recipe calls for twice as much pecan butter.
May want to thin a bit with some milk.
When a pencil stuck into the grits stands alone, they are the right consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Turn down heat to keep warm.
And there you have it. It’s simply delicious.
The recipe was altered a bit but generally it was featured in Food and Wine magazine. The contributor was Jeff McGinnis, from his restaurant, Yardbird, in Miami.