This recipe comes to us from James Beard Award winning Chef JJ Johnson and his NYC-based restaurants Fieldtrip, which celebrates rice in its many delicious forms and how rice shapes cultures around the world. In honor of Black History Month, Fieldtrip is featuring a special dish of King Crab with Sweet Potato Rice Grits to remind us that rice is the staple food of Black culture in America and abroad. Here, Chef JJ uses Carolina Gold rice grits, a variety of rice with a gold-hued husk, brought to South Carolina by way of the transatlantic slave trade that became almost extinct until the 1980s through renegerative efforts. We are honored to share this recipe and part of its history with our audience, and encourage you to follow Chef JJ and his restaurants for exciting, delicious adventures.
This recipe is part of our feature highlighting Black History Month 2023! Follow along throughout the month to catch more incredible recipes from Black food content creators and chefs to learn a little more about the history of Black foodways and traditions.
For the Grits
- 2 cups Carolina Gold rice grits
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 cup coconut milk mixture (recipe follows)
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
For the Coconut Milk Mixture (makes about 3 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1/ 2 cup cardamom pods
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 12 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise pods
- 1/ 2 teaspoon ground mace
- Zest of 2 oranges
Make the Coconut Milk Mixture
Add all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes, then strain.
Make the Sweet Potato Puree
Add sweet potatoes to a medium pot of boiling water and cook until tender. Blend until completely smooth.
Make the Carolina Gold Rice Grits
In a separate sauce pot, bring 3 cups water and 1 cup strained coconut milk mixture to boil. Stir the grits into the boiling water/coconut milk and season with salt. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
Once the rice is almost tender, add sweet potato puree and half the butter and stir to melt. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. Stir in remaining butter before serving.