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Country Grit Bread

Grit bread is similar to cornbread, but it's made with pure stone-ground grits, giving it a texture unlike any you've ever tasted. This bread is dense, moist and not at all sweet on the inside while golden and crusty on the outside. You can find stone-ground cornmeal in specialty and organic grocery stores.

Serves 8

1 cup plain white stone-ground cornmeal (not instant)

3/4 cup yellow self-rising cornbread mix

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons sausage, bacon, country ham, or pork chop drippings (Crisco or half butter and half Crisco will work as substitutes)

1/4 cup plain white stone-ground grits

3/4 cup water

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Sift white cornmeal, cornbread mix, sugar, salt and baking soda into a big mixing bowl. Add fat drippings to a cast-iron cornbread pan (or muffin or cornstick pan) and warm it on the stove. When drippings are melted, tilt pan so the sides and bottom are well greased. Then pour off and reserve two tablespoons of drippings.

Mix grits and water in a bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stop and stir and then microwave again on high for 3 minutes and set aside. The grits will be about half done, but that's OK. Whisk egg in a bowl. Then mix egg with buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until the batter is well mixed but still a bit on the firm and dry side. Add the reserved pan drippings and grits. Mix all of the ingredients well with a large spoon. (If grits and water have cooled, reheat for 30 seconds before adding.) Your batter shouldn't be too dry or too wet, but somewhere in between.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (Cornsticks take slightly less time.) Your grit bread is done when a nice, golden brown crust has formed. Now, all you need to do is get a big slab of butter and dig in!

Cooking Tip: Leftover grit bread makes mouthwatering fried cornbread. Just heat up a griddle or cast-iron pan and drop in a small bit of butter. Then fry up your leftover cornbread wedges until they are nice and golden brown.

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