Saturday, April 2, 2011

{Something Southern Sunday}: Cheese Grits

Oh grits, where do I start with you? There are so many questions I've been wanting to ask. Are you breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Are you savory? Sweet? Are you hominy or corn? Are you a relative of polenta, a brother or more like distant cousin? And what's your deal with shrimp?

Now I realize those are a lot more questions than you can answer in one post, so we will likely have to continue this conversation in the future.

So first some admissions: I didn't try grits until I moved to the South. I always thought grits and polenta were the same thing.

Here are the things I've learned: Both grits and polenta are made from ground corn. Polenta is generally, though not always, ground finer. True grits, also sometimes referred to as hominy grits, are ground from hominy, which is corn that has been treated with lye before grinding. They are white, not yellow like corn grits. Hominy grits can be harder to find outside the South, where stone ground versions have seen a revival in the last few years.

Another confession: Sometimes I cook instant grits, you know in a pinch. Bob's Red Mill makes a grits/polenta product that is my weeknight kitchen staple. These are not true hominy grits and therefore not quite as flavorful, but to cuddle a pile of shrimp they taste just delicious. For a real show stopper or any occasion you what to serve grits as the main not the side try any of Anson Mills Grits, they will take about twice as long to cook, but the flavor is so, so worth it.

So do I serve my grits for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Why, yes, I do! And I particularly enjoy them with a grating of cheddar or parmesan at any of these meal times.

Cheese Grits

serves 2

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 ounces sharp cheddar or parmesan, grated

Bring the water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high heat. Season with salt and add the grits, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring every so often until the grits are thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.

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