It’s just one of those days. You know … one of those days when you are just craving something warm, cheesy and delicious. For a Southerner like me, nothing fits that bill like a big bowl full of Cheese Grits.
I always joke with my friends up North … “Do y’all even know what grits are?!” (By the way, if you haven’t heard of them … it is always plural … never refer to this iconic Southern staple in the singular!) Basically, grits are made from coarsely ground corn. It’s the Southern version of Italy’s polenta.
Good old Martha White (of the flour fame) offers a very comprehensive definition on her Martha White’s Southern Cooking Glossary:
Grits are related to corn meal, since both are made from dried corn. Grits are just more coarsely ground than corn meal. White grits made from white corn are the most familiar; however, yellow grits made from yellow corn also are available. Whole ground grits are made by grinding the whole corn kernel, including the bran, germ and hard starchy endosperm. Quick and regular grits, the two most popular types, cook much more quickly. They’re made by tempering dried corn, removing the brand and germ, then grinding the hard starchy endosperm. Instant grits are cooked and dehydrated before packaging and are prepared by adding hot water.
In my baked cheese grits recipe, I use quick-cooking white grits since they give this dish a deliciously creamy texture. For a “grittier” texture, you can substitute stone-ground grits. (Just keep in mind that stone-ground grits take much longer to cook so be sure to prepare them per the package directions before adding the cheese, butter, and eggs.)
This dish is one of those few exceptions that can be perfectly served at any meal … breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Baked Cheese Grits
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
3 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and 3 cups of the cheese until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the garlic and eggs until well combined.
Pour the grits into the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of the cheese across the top. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Serves 8 to 10.
Cooking Tip: For an added kick, add chopped jalapeno peppers.