As the largest producing region of corn and peanuts in the state, you could say that in Southwest Georgia, grits (and goobers) really do grow on trees. This recipe marries stone ground Southwest Georgia grits, crunchy Georgia peanuts and spicy local mustard greens with Maiale al Latte, Italian for pork cooked in milk, and wouldn’t look out of place on a Columbus fine dining menu.
- 3 pounds boneless Georgia pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut in two equal pieces GG logo
- 4 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions GG logo
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil GG logo
- 6 cups whole milk GG logo
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 (2-inch) lengths of lemon peel, white pith removed
- Finely chopped parsley
- 1 recipe Sauteed Mustard Greens
- 1 recipe Georgia Grown Grits
- 1 recipe Fried BBQ Peanuts
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a large, wide-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat just until smoking. Season pork shoulder pieces generously with salt. Sear until brown on all sides without crowding the pot, one at a time if necessary. Remove to a plate and set aside. Decrease heat to medium low and add butter to melt. Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent and soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Increase heat slightly. Add cayenne, garlic, lemon peel, sage sprigs and bay leaf, and cook for half a minute more until garlic is fragrant. Splash some of the milk into the pot and scrape up all the browned bits as it comes to a boil. Return pork shoulder to the pot, and cover with remaining milk and the cream. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer pot to oven. Cook pork for 2 hours covered, then uncover, turn pork pieces over and cook for 1 ½ hours more until fall-apart tender. The curds and whey will have separated because of the lemon peel. It will look broken – continue on to the next step.
Remove pork with tongs and set aside. Transfer pot back to the stove. Remove and discard sage stems, bay leaf, and lemon peel. Simmer gently over medium heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, or until reduced by half. Meanwhile, shred the pork into bite sized pieces and keep warm.
Skim off most of the fat from the top and discard. Taste and season with salt, freshly grated nutmeg, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer half or all the remaining liquid in the pot to a blender and puree until smooth or use an immersion blender to emulsify into a sauce. Keep sauce warm until ready to serve.
To serve: Spoon the grits onto each place and top with the sauce, then some of the shredded pork, then more sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and crushed fried peanuts. Arrange mustard greens on the side. Serve with more sauce at the table. Extra sauce can be frozen for later use – defrost, heat slowly, and blend as needed to re-emulsify.
Georgia Grown Grits
1 cup stone-ground grits GG logo
4-6 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Combine grits, ½ teaspoon salt, butter, and 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure grits do not stick, then lower to a simmer. Cook grits, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 30 minutes. Grits will have thickened and will look cooked but will not be completely soft. Add additional water as needed, continuing to cook until tender, stirring frequently, for 15-30 minutes more; taste occasionally to check for doneness, Adjust seasoning.
Once grits are done, keep warm and covered. If they cool and thicken too much, you may whisk in ½ cup additional water to thin, then reheat gently.
Sautéed Georgia Mustard Greens
2 bunches curly mustard greens, washed thoroughly, stemmed, leaves cut into thin strips GG logo
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil GG logo
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Heat oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add mustard greens and sauté until completely wilted, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, lemon zest if using, and garlic and sauté half a minute more until fragrant. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
Cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to serve, then reheat just before serving.
Fried BBQ Peanuts
½ cup raw, shelled peanuts GG logo
Canola oil, for frying
BBQ rub or seasoning of choice GG logo
Pour oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches in a small saucepan. Heat to 325 degrees. Submerge peanuts in preheated oil for about 3 minutes, until crisp and toasty smelling. Transfer peanuts to a paper towel-lined plate or tray and gently crush while hot into medium pieces with a meat mallet. Immediately transfer to the bowl with seasoning and toss. Set aside until ready to garnish.