Tasty grits can steal an entree's show

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Grits have cachet. They have character. Essentially, they are the William Hurt of starches: Give them a supporting role and they will steal the show. Real grits are easily available, in stores and online, and the only wonder is why chefs are not making more of them. Serve them with duck or shrimp or sausage, and you may give up rice.

Total cooking time is 1 hour, 50 minutes. (Note: Cooking time varies depending on the type of grits used.)



4 duck legs


Freshly ground black


1 cup coarse grits

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 -1 / 2 cups Syrah or other red wine

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 small dried hot chile

1 small onion, diced

6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Creole or other coarse-grain mustard

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the duck legs well on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange them skin side up in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them all comfortably. Roast 1 hour.

While the legs cook, bring 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a rolling boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the grits and minced garlic and stir until smooth. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until the grits are thickened and cooked through adding more water if the mixture gets too thick and dry (1 to 1-1 / 2 hours for Anson Mills grits). Hold in a warm spot.

Combine the red wine, 1-1 / 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, the crushed garlic, bay leaf, thyme and the chile in a saucepan and heat to a simmer.

Drain off the fat from the legs, reserving 1 tablespoon. Pour the wine mixture around the legs so that the meat is immersed but the skin is exposed. Return the legs to a rack set in the upper third of the oven and roast 30 minutes.

When the legs are cooked, remove from the oven and transfer them to a platter and keep warm.

Heat the reserved fat in a saucepan and saute the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, maple syrup, mustard and the remaining Worcestershire sauce. Pour the braising liquid into the saucepan, raise the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. (Makes 1 / 2 cup sauce.)

Arrange 1 or 2 duck legs on each serving plate. Spoon the grits alongside. Strain the sauce, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid. Remove the excess fat from the surface. Ladle a little sauce over the duck and grits, passing the remainder at the table.

Per serving (based on 4 servings): 495 calories; 31 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 105 milligrams cholesterol; 500 milligrams sodium.

Regina Schrambling wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times, which provided the recipe and analysis.

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