“Southern food shouldn’t be trapped in the past,” says native-born Georgian chef, Virginia Willis. That was food for when we “worked in fields; now we work in chairs,” she says. Real grits are not a cream-based emulsion that keeps processed grits afloat. They’re stone-ground, cooked in water, stock or milk, she says.  In honor of Thanksgiving, we're participating in the second annual Communal Table, where the food community has come together to offer tried and tested recipes. See (on the left) what our friends are bringing to the table.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cup water
  • 2 Cup low-fat or whole milk
  • 1 Cup stone-ground grits
  • 2 Medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preparation

Step 1:

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Slowly add the grits, whisking constantly.

Step 2:

Season with salt and white pepper. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the grits are creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes.

Step 3:

Taste the grits and sweet potato to make sure both are cooked and tender. Add the ground ginger, cinnamon, and butter. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.

Brilliant Short Recipe: Sweet Potato Spoonbread

Add a bit of technique and our Basic country classic is transformed into a Brilliant soufflélike spoonbread.

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an ovenproof casserole or round 2-quart soufflé mold.

Step 2:

To the sweet potato–grits mixture, add 2 large egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Step 3:

In a separate bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat 2 large egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Step 4:

Gently fold the egg whites into the warm sweet potato mixture. Transfer the lightened mixture to the prepared pan; smooth the surface with a spatula.

Step 5:

Bake until the outside is puffed and risen, the inside is firm but moist, and the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately while still puffed. Serves 4 to 6.