We love polenta as a base for tomato sauce or a sidekick to a hearty stew. But when it's time for making cornmeal fritters, we prefer the American cousin: grits. They hold together a little better than polenta, have a slightly deeper corn flavor, and sound pleasantly contrarian. For an appetizer this week, we married our grits frites with a robust sauce of tomato and capers that, we hope you'll agree, is both right and novel.
Butter an 11x7" or similarly-sized baking pan. Prepare 2 cups of grits on the stovetop in a saucepan according to the instructions on the package. With most types of grits, this involves bringing 2 cups of water to a boil, sifting in 1/2 cup of grits while stirring, and cooking on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the grits thicken and begin to pull away from the side of the pan.
Once the grits are done cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the Old Bay, parmesan, and salt. Spoon the mixture into the buttered baking pan and smooth to an even thickness. Let cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered overnight.
Next, make the sauce: reduce a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes with a halved onion and 5 tablespoons of butter for about 45 minutes. While the tomato and onion reduction is still warm, spoon it into a food processor along with the capers, lemon juice, and parsley. Blitz for about 45 seconds, until the parsley is completely chopped. (Use the leftover sauce, of which there will be plenty, over pasta, preferably with some good tuna, or serve it a salsa with your favorite chips.)
Use a spatula to gently free up the hardened cake of grits from the edges of the baking pan. Flip upside down onto a cutting board, and cut into strips that are 1/2" wide and 4" inches long.
Fill the skillet with about half an inch of oil, and heat to 350 degrees. Place the Frywall into position, then use tongs to place about a dozen of the fries into the oil. Don't overcrowd the pan. Working in batches, fry for about 5 minutes, then use the tongs to turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes, or until golden-brown.
Remove the fries to a plate to let them cool for about a minute. If they've stuck together, gently break them apart by hand. Season with a little more Old Bay, and serve warm with the dipping sauce.