Believe it or not, Charleston, SC and pomegranates go way back.
Before there was even a United States, there were pomegranates. The Spanish conquistadors introduced them to the New World in Mexico, California, and Florida. The English later cultivated pomegranates in the warmer American colonies, with the area around Charleston being a particularly successful producer. In 1764, the renowned early American botanist John Bartram was known to have received at his home in Pennsylvania a barrel of pomegranates and oranges from a correspondent in Charleston.
And it goes without saying that Charleston and grits go way back, too!
This simple and deliciously creamy pie is made with the basic staples (eggs, milk, yellow corn grits), but with the addition of a couple of colonial-era treats – pomegranate and coconut – that would have made a holiday dessert special. The top is decorated with mint leaf ‘pine needles’, a mint and pomegranate ‘holly’ cluster, and powdered sugar ’snow’ on the ‘hilltops’ – something we in the aptly named Lowcountry don’t have!
Here’s a photo of the Carolina Christmas Pomegranate Milk Pie below.
1 large pomegranate
5 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup yellow grits, “quick”-type (not instant)
1 tsp ground coriander
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup (approx.) sweetened flaked coconut
1 Tbsp honey
Mint leaves (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Cut the pomegranate and remove the arils. Measure 1 cup of arils and set the remainder aside for decoration. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
In a large saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat to a near boil. Add the butter, sugar, and salt and stir until melted. Whisk in the grits and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until grits have begun to thicken (about 7 - 10 minutes.) Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the coriander, and allow the grits to cool for a few minutes.
Drizzle in the beaten eggs a little at a time, whisking to incorporate them completely before adding more.
Generously coat the bottom and sides of a 10-inch spring form pan (see Cook’s Note) with cooking spray and shake in the flaked coconut, turning the pan to coat the sides. Gently pour in half of the grit batter, spreading carefully with a spatula if necessary. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils evenly over the batter, then pour in the remaining batter, smoothing it to the edges if necessary.
Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (depending on the type of pan) or until top is golden brown and puffy. Turn off heat and allow pan to remain in oven for an additional 15 minutes. Remove and place on a rack. Top will deflate and leave an uneven surface; this is normal. Let cool completely before refrigerating or decorating.
To decorate: mix the honey with a little warm water and brush the honey on top (if you plan to dust the ‘hilltops’ with powdered sugar, only brush the honey in the ‘valleys’.) Top with the remaining pomegranate arils and finely-cut mint leaves, if using. Serves 8 - 12.
Cook’s Note: You can also make this in a deep pie pan, but you may need to shorten the cooking time.
Please join us tomorrow to read our newest feature on HuggingtheCoast.Com: Our Top 10 Favorite Christmas and New Year’s Eve Holiday Recipes.
If you liked this article on HuggingtheCoast.Com, you might also enjoy:
- Sing a Song of Pomegranates: 25+ Tasty Recipes
- Pomegranate-Infused Ginger Chicken With Sesame Scallion Dumplings
- Coconut Chipotle Mojo Shrimp With Pomegranate Relish
- Orange Fig Chorizos with Brandy & Pine Nuts Recipe
- 20 Blogs Guaranteed to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
- A Roundup of Sweet Recipes to Bring in the Chinese New Year