5 Tips to Keep Grits Warm
Seeing “Serve immediately” at the end of a recipe reads like a commandment rather than helpful instruction. It sounds so urgent.
With grits, you can relax when you come upon those words in a recipe. Stone ground grits are pretty forgiving. While it's true that lukewarm grits resemble spackling compound, all is not lost if your grits need to wait until the meal or guests are assembled.
To keep your beautiful grits smooth and luscious when you can't serve them immediately, here's what you need to know. Grits thicken to a semi-solid gel as they sit, and thickening is accelerated if they're also cooling. (Gelling is the process that makes Crispy Fried Grit Cakes fun and cool to make.)
So, a batch of grits sitting more than 5 or 10 minutes will need a good stir to make them smooth again. Longer than 10 or 15 minutes, and you'll need to add a small bit of warm liquid as you stir and smooth them out. It's as simple as that. With those facts in mind, here are some ways to keep grits warm when you aren't serving them immediately.
Serve Grits in a Heavy Dish
If you're taking grits to the table as a serve-yourself side dish, transfer them to a thick serving dish—heavy ceramic or cast iron—paired with some sort of lid. Rinse or fill the dish first with hot water so that it's nice and warm.
Hold Grits on the Stove or in the Oven
You can keep grits warm on the stovetop for about 30 minutes in a covered pot wrapped in a towel, or for up to 1 hour in a warm oven or a warming drawer. Grits thicken as they sit, so you will need to stir in a bit more liquid before serving.
Keep Grits Warm in a Double Boiler
Using a double boiler to keep food warm is a tried and true method that works amazingly well for grits. On the top, keep the grits tightly covered, on the bottom, maintain the water temperature at the lowest possible simmer. Don't let the water boil away!
Crock Pots Love Grits!
If you need to hold grits for an extended time, transfer them to a slow cooker. If it's a cold day, warm the ceramic liner with hot water before filling it with grits. Turn the crockpot to the warm setting. Stir the grits occasionally and add small amounts of water if they become too thick.
Hold (and reheat) Grits in the Microwave
Microwave ovens can hold heat inside like a warming drawer, especially ones living over a hot cooktop. Wrap a towel around your grits and pop them inside. Bonus: If the grits have cooled down too much, turn on the oven and send them on a short spin to warm up. You'll probably need to stir in a little more liquid.