20 October 2007
How do you feel about grits?
It seems that everyone I know has an opinion about them. Most everyone I know, in this part of the country, seems to think they don’t like them. When I happily tell that I am planning to make grits for dinner, they screw up their face and back away slightly. “Grits?” they say. “You’re looking forward to eating grits?” That’s what I like to see when I’m talking about food – a passionate response! And the answer is, “Yes! Yes I am.” Grits are delicious!
Grits have long been a southern staple. Growing up in the south I frequently saw them served for breakfast, scooped on a plate with a pat of butter on top. I must confess, I didn’t like them then. Served plain they have no more pizzazz than oatmeal or cream of wheat. Also, most often white grits were served and, in my opinion, yellow grits have a bit more to offer in terms of color and texture on a plate. Yellow grits are also known as polenta, and polenta sounds trendy and more desirable than grits, so if your friends are opposed to eating grits and give you that “grits face” tell them you are serving polenta and, while that might not inspire enthusiasm, it is less likely to invite a sour look.
Now I enjoy grits for breakfast. I add a good bit of freshly ground black pepper to a bowl of yellow grits, drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Or substitute a pat of butter and cheddar cheese. It also makes a good side dish at breakfast or dinner.
For dinner tonight I am making Cheese Grits (Polenta) Casserole. It is a comfort food, much like macaroni and cheese, only easier to prepare. Start with good yellow corn grits. I use Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits Also Known as Polenta. These are found in the health food section of my favorite supermarket but are sometimes found in other sections. If you can’t find that brand try any other type of grits you can find - but do try them. You may find you like them more than you thought you did.
Cheese Grits Casserole
1 cup grits (polenta), prepared according to package directions
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup grated cheese
2 eggs, well beaten
¼ cup milk
Prepare 1 cup of uncooked grits according to package directions. Then stir 3 Tablespoons of butter into the warm grits along with ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 cup of grated sharp cheese. I usually use extra sharp cheddar cheese but fontina works well, and other cheeses would work well too.
Beat 2 eggs with ¼ cup of milk. Add this to the grits and mix well. Pour the mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes in a 425 degree oven.
Note: This is a forgiving recipe. A little more or a little less cheese, butter, or even milk won't spoil the recipe. And it can be baked at other temperatures if needed, so that it can share the oven with another dish that requires a lower baking temperature. Cooking time will differ but just leave it in the oven until the top begins to brown.