Okay, I use coarse cornmeal, which is the same as polenta. You can usually find them in the bulk isle. They'll be yellow, and they'll say something like polenta/grits coarse corn meal
It's all pretty much the same, lots of regions have some sort of corn porridge. Although grits are sometimes made from rice or hominy, I like the yellow coarse kind. Some people will tell you that you need to stir these non stop for an hour. I'm too lazy to do that. These taste great in half the time and half the stirring.
Here is a great, pain basic recipe. Nothing Fancy, easy to understand. My recipes are a bit different, but this will totally get you started.
Here are three variations
1 cup coarse yellow corn meal
1 cup milk
3 cups water (or stock if you want to get fancy)
2 tbs of butter (but you can leave it out if you're trying not to have a heart attack)
salt and pepper
(These are the main ingredients that you will always use, and always use this ratio. 1 cup grits to 4 cups liquid)
However, all add ins to the main recipe are flexible. Meaning, if you have two cups of mushrooms instead of one, throw it in and don't worry about it.
This is a one pan deal, use a sauce pan that can handle at least 6 cups or more, But a stock pot would be overkill.
Also, these recipes can easily be vegan, just sub milk for water or veggie stock and leave out butter or cheese. Variation 3 works well for veganizing.
for fancy time variation 1.
1 portabella mushroom, diced or a similar amount of crimini, shitake, or chantarelle mushrooms diced. Eyeball it. Somewhere between one and two cups of mushrooms.
1 cup (or more if you're throwing blood-pressure to the wind) shredded cheddar
2 diced cloves of garlic (or more cloves if you're awesome)
fresh thyme, about 3 nice sprigs, stripped and leaves chopped.
(Also, have some frozen corn in the fridge? Throw a half to a whole cup in along with the liquid, it's awesome)
Sauté mushrooms in butter or olive oil until brown and fragrant at medium high heat.
Throw in thyme and garlic and give them a stir. Do not brown the garlic, we're just incorporating these last items at the last minute.
Add the cup of milk and the three cups of water, bring to a boil.
Add salt and pepper to liking, or add when serving. Up to you.
While stirring slowly, pour the cup of cornmeal in a thin stream into the pot. Keep stirring, scraping the sides and the bottom for three minutes.
(This shit will splatter like Cajun Napalm and burn the crap out of your hands. Use a long wooden spoon.)
Reduce heat to medium low and continue stirring until it's a not so angry splatter fest. (Around five minutes)
Stir in the cheese a few bits at a time until melted.
Adjust the heat to the lowest medium setting, (does that make sense?) and let it cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, giving it a stir every few minutes. You'll know it's done when the grits start to pull away from the sides of the pan when you stir, they'll almost have a slight dome to the surface, instead of laying perfectly flat across the top. (I just realized, it pretty much has the consistency of really thick batter)
Ladle it into bowls and marvel at the wonder of perfect cuisine that hails from the South, or Italy, or Africa, or South America, or wherever.
IMPORTANT- If you let this sit in dirty bowls, forks, spoons, pan, it will set up like cement. Rinse out!
Leftovers! Pour the left overs into a baking dish and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Later pop them in the oven at 350 until hot (maybe 20 minutes) and slice and serve. Or slice the cold grits and fry in hot oil. This method is yummy but tricky. Lots or splattering and they'll stick if you're not careful.
Fancy Variation 2-
sub the mushrooms and thyme for sauteed chopped spinach, shallots, and garlic, and the cheddar for Gruyère
Fancy Variation 3- roast one whole butternut squash. Use a masher or a hand blender or food processor to get it really smooth, add it to the boiling milk water mushroom combo in Variation 1 BEFORE you add the grits. Whisk or stir to incorporate well, the liquid will be orange color and mostly be lump free, (except for the mushrooms), like a smooth potato soup consistency. Leave the cheese out of this recipe, you won't miss it.