For as long as I can remember, special Sunday mornings meant savory, cheesy grits. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Labor Day (I could be making that one up)-we had homemade breakfast with bacon or sausage and eggs, grits, maybe some fruit. It was a dream and real life makes me miss it. So I finally learned how to make grits myself.
I feel like when you leave the south, grits get a bad rap. Also people put sugar on them and I just can’t support that. You want sugary mush, eat oatmeal. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
The texture of grits can be a problem for some people and I get it. It’s mushy, yet grainy, and if they’re not hot from the pot they can sort of congeal. No one wants that. So my first tip for grits:
1. Serve grits hot from the pot!
In some circumstances they could be served as leftovers if mixed with other things, but you’re going to get the best reactions and love for your grits that morning. Set an alarm and get to cooking before the fam is up and in the way.
2. The best grits start with bacon
I start my grits by using the instructions on the Quaker 5-Minute Grits container, but it’s missing a few things including butter. Or even better, bacon fat. Do not question me. Getting rid of bacon fat is always a hassle so why not just throw it in another dish?
To save myself the mess and the possibility of the fire alarm going off, I cook my bacon in the oven. I agree that bacon on the stove is better, but not enough to change my ways. By using the wire racks, your bacon can get as crispy as you need it to be. I bake it at 400 degrees F and I watch to take it out at the right amount of crispy (two different time points for my roommate and I). Using aluminum foil also helps to pour the grease straight into the grits pot.
3. Hold the salt
You’re going to add bacon fat and cheese and maybe some butter if you need it. There could be plenty of salt without an addition. For spices, I do add a good amount of pepper and some garlic powder. I taste for salt right before I serve the grits and add what I think it needs. Too much salt and you won’t really taste the cheese or bacon flavors and that’s, like, the whole point of this food. So hold the salt.
The egg adds a better texture to the grits, making them thicker and less grainy. Plus, protein! This isn’t what I’d call a healthy recipe so I’ll take the nutrients where I can get them.
Cheese, cheese, cheese. Oh so wonderful cheese. For this recipe I’m using a combination of cheddar and Parmesan. I’ve also used Gouda in the past when I had some extra and it was wonderful. The amount of cheese is really up to you, but I’m in the never enough boat.
Allowing the grits to sit over low heat once all the ingredients are added is best for having melded flavors. This, however, can dry them out. Keep some milk around and add it to the grits if they appear dry – heat it up for 30s in the microwave before adding it to assist in the mixing.
Cheesy grits is such an easy way to add some savory goodness to your breakfast. It’s just a matter of adding everything you need to take them from plain grits to vehicle-for-cheese.
Southern Style Cheesy Grits
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup quick grits
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp bacon grease or salted butter
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 cup shredded cheese 2/3 cup cheddar, 1/3 cup parmesan are my preferred cheeses
In a medium sauce pan, bring water and grease/butter to a boil
Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to medium low & cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Whisk in eggs until fully combined
Add cheese and seasonings. Continue to cook until all the cheese has melted and is combined into the grits.
Keep on low heat until time to serve. If grits appear too dry, add 1/2 cup warm milk and whisk through.
Taste for salt before serving