Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sometime Grits (for a Sunday Morning)

My senior year in college I decided to apply to Tulane in New Orleans. At this point, I have no memory as to why. But then I was accepted and so it was on my very very short list of contenders. For spring break that year, my family went to New Orleans as a vacation and college visit in one. I think my parents thought that the distance would scare me. But we left the cold air and grayness of March in Iowa to be greeted by the beauty that is New Orleans in March (the azaleas, warm air, etc). Aside from a trip to Florida (which is sort of its own animal) and travels through Virginia to D.C, this was my first real experience below the Mason-Dixon.

As we ate breakfast each morning, I remember being completely disgusted by grits. Maybe some people in Iowa ate grits, but they weren't in my family. I didn't like them - it was a texture issue. And I came to discover that even if you specifically requested that they not bring you any grits with your breakfast (and were even willing to still pay for them), they brought them anyway. There was no escaping them. They sat in a little bowl and stared up at you, usually looking a little greasy. In the interest of my ever-expanding cooking repertoire, I decided to conquer Grits.

We call these "Sometimes Grits,"* because you really only want to eat them sometimes. They are not low-cal or low-fat, and they are not quick-cooking, because no self-respecting... (remember that quote from My Cousin Vinny). This is based on a recipe I've seen lots of places and was featured by Paula Deen on the Food Channel (she grates on my nerves, but does cook some rich food.).

Sometimes Cheesy Grits

3 cups chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t cajun seasoning
Dash or two of Tabasco
1 cup regular grits
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, chubed or shredded
1/4 cup heavy cream (you could use milk, but don't, life's too short)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
4 oz grated sharp white cheddar cheese (or a similar substitute)
Bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart casserole.

Bring broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, and Tabasco to a boil. Stin in the grits and whisk until completely combined and smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer until grits are thick, about 8-10 minutes. Add cubed shredded cheese and milk, and stir. Gradually stin in the eggs and butter. Stirring until combined.

Pour into prepared casserole. Sprinkle with white cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set.

This can easily be doubled for a crowd. But this makes plenty if you are serving as a side. This is about the only way that I can eat grits. You could easily substitute other varieties of cheese based on whatever you have on hand or your own preferences.

*Do you remember when they had the audacity to make Cookie Monster health conscious? He had this bit about cookies being "sometime treats." Like Cookie Monster can be held single handedly responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic? In tribute, we adopted the phrase for all kinds of things. Coldstone Creamery = Sometime treat. Cheesecake = Sometime treat. And on...

I may have another grit trick up my sleeve. But for now, I'm just enjoying cooking. I'm sure it will pass.

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Knittripps said...

Thanks for sharing! We will have to give those a try "sometime" on a Sunday morning.

When I took my first trip down South (Memphis, TN and Jonesboro, AR) I had a nearly identical experience with grits. Your story made me smile :)

Abby said...

You are a far better "Southern wife" than I. I couldn't possibly cook those, let alone eat them. Poor Travis has to go to Cracker Barrel to get his grits on. In my world, grits are just for kissing.

Libby said...

I don't really like grits, and these are honestly not bad at all. The cheese helps. Did you know grits are the same thing as polenta? I just found this out, and I feel so grits biased all of a sudden.

Oh, but I refuse to go to Cracker Barrell for fear that whatever I order will be smothered in gravy. Not that gravy doesn't have its place, but not on EVERYTHING....

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