Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creamy Cheddar Grits

In order to get into the true spirit of this dish, imagine, if you would, that I'm writing in a southern accent. That's right, break out that old Southern twang and read as if you're sitting with Paula Deen, sipping sweet tea on a porch somewhere in Savanna; or, if you're feeling really adventurous, go ahead and read aloud. Yes ma'am, I said aloud. And no need to feel silly; everyone else will be doing it too. Ready? OK.

First, I had to find the right kind of grits. The recipe calls for fine quick-cooking, but not instant, grits. Since Dan's a grits connoisseur I trusted him to steer me to the right aisle. We went into the natural/organic food section, and Dan picked a bag of Bob's Red Mill Organic Grits. "You can see our Quality!" boasted the package. It looked like sand to me.

Not wanting to believe that we had to buy this ridiculous specialty bag of grits, I went back to the cereal aisle to see if I could find the right kind of grits but at a better price.

We bought Bob's.

Once home, I gathered the grits together with all of my other ingredients:

grits, half-and-half, butter, cheddar cheese, scallions, salt, and pepper 

I put a pot of water on the stove and brought it to a boil. I added the salt and then slowly added the grits:

I attempted to add them in a constant, slow, steady stream, while stirring constantly, but it was a bit of a struggle. Since the container I was using didn't have a pour spout, the grits didn't want to stream out in a constant motion. Instead, some would come out, then stop, then some more, then stop. I added them all though, relatively successfully, and lowered the heat to a simmer. This simmered for about 5 minutes, while I stirred occasionally. After the 5 minutes, the grits looked something like this:

I added the half-and-half and butter:

I brought this mixture to a simmer again, stirring occasionally. Once it was back up to a simmer, I lowered the heat somewhat, covered the pot and set the timer for 45 minutes. Throughout the 45 minutes, I continued to stir occasionally. Here's what the grits looked like after about 20 minutes:

Looking a bit less like soup

In the meantime, Dan grated the cheddar cheese:

I followed Ina's advice and bought really good Cabot cheddar from Vermont. Cheese is one thing I don't mess around with.

and I chopped the scallions:

After about 45 minutes, the grits had thickened and were smooth and creamy:

Off the heat, I added the cheddar cheese and scallions and stirred to combine:

Here's the final plating:

And here's Dan's plate about 10 minutes later:

In her description Ina likens these to mashed potatoes, which I was very skeptical about. Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite things and I didn't think grits could hold a candle to them. But once I tried them, I saw the similarity. They were creamy and filling, but unlike mashed potatoes which I can eat for days, these grits were a little too rich for me.

I don't usually eat grits, and I was concerned they would be coarse or grainy, but they weren't at all. Unlike me, Dan is a big fan of grits and, as evidenced by his plate above, he really liked these. The recipe instructs to serve these hot, and that is definitely necessary. As they cooled, they became less creamy and firmed up, almost to the point that if I had wanted to, I could have made the grits into patties and fried them (yum).  

Make this when: your boyfriend's grandmother is visiting from South Carolina and you want to show her that even women who live above the Mason-Dixon Line can cook a bowl of grits. 

Next Course: Baked Sweet Potato "Fries"


  1. I'm not a fan of grits but if you make this for me I'd be willing to give them a try. They sure looked good in the picture. Dan certainly seemed to like how they came out!

  2. I genuinely do not like grits, I tried them when I was in Charleston. However I really liked this post! I found it charming, smart, funny, and a little quirky. I loved how you suggested reading it with a southern accent. I loved the way you wrote about how you tried to buy different grits but ended up with Bob's. And I loved the Make this when section. Can't wait for the sweet potato fries!

  3. Had I read this recipe before my usual "mom" breakfast I may have forgone my usual steel cut oats for these babys - though I am not they wuld have has the same effect on my cholesterol. They have become all the rage at "grits bars" at weddings these days expecially when the couple hails from above and below the maison dixon line.


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