Upper Caribbean Creamy Grits with Plantains

plate of plantainsFrom the book Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong (www.dacapopress.com), a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.

Soundtrack: “Tie My Hands” by Lil Wayne from Tha Carter III
Art: “The Block” by Terrance Osborne

I originally made these grits to be paired with my Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits, but the coconut milk made the grits sweeter than I wanted them to be for that dish. So I decided to add some cinnamon, ginger, and a dollop of maple syrup and make this a breakfast dish.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 large ripe yellow plantain, ends cut off, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces widthwise

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Coarse sea salt

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 cinnamon stick

4 cups water

3/4 cup stone-ground grits

5 tablespoons maple crystals or organic raw cane sugar

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a small bowl, toss the plantains, olive oil, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook, stirring a few times to ensure even browning, until crisp on the outside and starting to turn golden brown, about 45 minutes. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the coconut milk, the ginger, and the cinnamon stick. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often and ensuring that the coconut milk does not boil. Remove from the heat and strain the coconut milk into a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan, combine 3 cups of the water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Whisk the grits into the liquid until no lumps remain, return to a boil, then quickly reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the grits have absorbed most of the liquid and are thickening, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the remaining cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the reserved coconut milk and simmer, stirring frequently, until the grits are soft but not runny, 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in the maple sugar.

Right before serving top each serving with some roasted plantains.