Crew’s Mess: by Capt. John Wampler
When it comes to southern cooking, nothing says Dixie more than grits. We serve up steaming pots of grits with butter and honey, cheese, salt, sugar, tomato gravy, shrimp – it is a versatile dish that only needs your imagination. Grits are not just for breakfast anymore.
I have always loved the grits they serve in the Marina Restaurant at Charleston City Marina. On a recent voyage there, I asked the chef what brand they use and found that a local boutique grit mill made their grits. The yacht owners and guests wanted to spend a few days in Charleston, so I rented a car and drove an hour to visit Geechie Boy Mill and Country Store (www.geechieboymill.com) on Edisto Island.
What I found was a family-run stone mill that grinds locally grown varieties of white, yellow, red and blue corn. The country store has antique mill equipment, and products are for sale onsite or through mail order. On a personal tour of the main mill, I learned how temperature and spacing of the mill stones determines the quality of the end product.
2 cups milk, scalded
2 16-oz. cans pumpkin filling (NOT spiced pumpkin-pie filling)
1 cup cooked grits, cooled (see below)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 9-inch (2-cup volume) ready-made pie crusts.
Scald the milk in a medium saucepan and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a food processor, blend grits and pumpkin until smooth. Add milk and remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.
Pour equal amounts into the pie crusts.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into middle of pie comes out clean.
Let cool before serving. Whipped cream optional.
Bring 4 cups water, seasoned with salt and butter, to a rapid boil. Add grits until water boils again. Lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook (stirring occasionally) for 25 minutes. That’s it!
Capt. John Wampler (www.yachtaide.com) has worked on yachts for more than 30 years. His recipes are casual enough for anyone to prepare. Comments are welcome below.