Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Grist Mill

Growing up in a diminutive town could be a bit of a challenge for a kid that yearned for the city life. For instance; learning to ride a bike on a dirt road and wanting nothing more than a sidewalk to get you to your destination. We kept busy during the day with school, chores and family affairs. Every once in a while on a warm sluggish night we would pile into the back of our neighbor Dub’s old Dodge pickup for a drive on the back roads. Dub was a slow poke and he never drove over twenty mph. We’d drive down dark windy paths through the East Texas Piney Woods in search of old, creepy, grown-over graveyards. He’d pull right up to the graveyards’ edge and then the old Dodge inevitably would, “run out of gas”. We were stuck for about a minute each time, until our shrieking screams brought the old Dodge back to life.
It was Magnolia Springs to be exact and I thank God to this day there is still country in those big woods.

When I think of Magnolia Springs and Hwy 252, I recall lots of cornfields, cornbread and cast iron skillets. My family always had a plethora of fresh field corn. Papa planted fields of Golden Bantam Heirloom Seeds that would sustain the Kirbow family with enough corn to put up for the rest of the year. We would cream the corn to freeze and gently steam the corn on the cob to be devoured at supper time. When the corn was dry and ready to be milled we would take it to Willy Grimes’ Grist Mill. Grimes had mastered the art of milling the perfect texture of cornmeal. I remember it was like cornmeal heaven; clean and pure giant heaping mounds of unrefined corn meal. I loved to run my fingers through the fine powdery residue that was left after the grinding took place and when we left it looked like we had taken a bath in the cornmeal because we were covered in a fine whitish-yellow tinted powder from head to toe.

Now, when I need cornmeal, I jump in my car and drive a few miles to the local market and scan the isles for something that looks like pure cornmeal and not a picture of a Quaker smiling at me from the shelf. Eureka! ‘Lamb’s Stone Ground White Cornmeal’ from Converse, Texas. It proudly carries the ‘Go Texan’ label and a brief product description listing it as Preservative and Gluten Free and “Same Great Product Since 1968”.

These grits have made their way on many plates of mine from which some pretty good recipes have been developed. Most recently I have been experimenting with grit cakes. I wanted to take the grit cake to the next level, so I deep fried it in panko bread crumbs. The texture was out of this world and the creamy center from the cream cheese produced an outstanding Grit Cake.

Grit Cakes
2 cups Lamb’s Stone Ground White Corn Meal
3 ¾ cups Chicken Stock

8 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup cream cheese room temperature
1 garlic clove
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
Black Pepper
Flour for dusting
Egg Wash
2 cups Panko bread Crumbs
Chopped Parsley
Canola Oil

Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Make a garlic paste by finely chopping the garlic with kosher salt.
Combine chicken stock and garlic paste in a pot, season with salt, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and slowly whisk in cornmeal, ½ cup at a time.
This cooking process should take about twenty minutes.

When the grits separate from running a spoon through the middle, add butter and cream cheese.
Season to taste and turn off heat.
Gently, pour hot grits on the parchment lined pan and put in freezer for about an hour.

You may also refrigerate for about four hours until firm.
When grits are firm, aggressively flip the pan onto a cutting board and cut the firm slab of grits into squares.
Heat Canola Oil and begin staging for frying.

Dust the cakes in flour, egg wash then panko bread crumbs and fry for about 2 minutes.
Drain and Serve!!!


    Arrepa Pan
    This is one of my all-time favorite foods/breads and it is easy. the product, corn meal, is sold in the "foreign section" of HEB it is yellow and blue with a lady on it wearing a scarf.

  2. Wow, those little 'Arrepa pans' are cute! I can put those to use! Thnaks, for the tip. I will give it a try.

  3. So grits (and this recipe) are similar to polenta? I'd sure like to know how you topped those grit cakes in the photo--looks yummy!

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