The pickle man

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Best Cheese Grits Ever (lump free)

This morning, before going back to New Orleans, my brother had to change the brake pads on his car.  So he came over to get some help.

And I made cheese grits for the boys.

I absolutely adore these grits.  I adapted the recipe from Celebrations on the Bayou - the cookbook from my town's junior league, created by my mom and her friends when they were my age.  It's the cookbook I use the most often because every time I ask my mom about a great recipe I remember, this book is where she points.  Plus, I was 9 when it was published and I'm listed in the back as an official taster - the first time my name appeared in an actual book :)

So, to make the grits...

You need a liquid to grit ratio of 4:1.  The directions on the back of the box just tell you to use water, but if you use more flavorful liquids, you get more flavorful grits.  Chicken stock is a great add in for lunch or dinner grits, but for these morning ones, I wanted creaminess.  So I used half water and half skim milk.

Bring 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk to a rolling boil.  Add a pinch of Kosher salt.

Slowly pour in the grits, whisking constantly.  This is the key to non-lumpy grits.  If you don't stir as you pour, no amount of squishing lumps with a spoon against the side will help.  I know.  I've tried.

Reduce the heat and put a lid on the grits. Let them simmer away for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, grate the cheese.

I used a half pound (8 ounces) of extra sharp cheddar and 6 ounces of a processed, Dutch Garden's cheese product called "Garlic Loaf."

The original recipe calls for Kraft Jalapeno processed cheese.  As much as I don't generally like over-processed foods (Velveta literally makes me cringe), I have a special affection for this stuff.  My mother put it in everything.

Then Kraft stopped making it.  My town was devastated.  The grocery store finally posted a sign in the cheese bin they got so many questions about it during Thanksgiving.  But seriously, Spinach Madeline, cheese grits, pea goo (my grandmother's favorite) - they all called for the Kraft roll of cheese.  

Garlic Loaf is the best approximation I've found.  You can also use any other creamy cheese and some extra garlic.

When the grits are finished, add a 1/2 stick of butter, the cheeses, a generous pinch of red pepper, paprika, and Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce.

I only use 1-2 teaspoons, but the original recipe calls for a Tablespoon.  It's very strong, but most of the men I know from here could drink the bottle.

Stir until combined, and then serve!

Serving suggestions:
I like mine in a big cup.

My husband makes sandwiches with toast or biscuits, a layer of grits, and then scrambled eggs.  It wouldn't be Easter without these grits and ham, but they are also great with grilled meat, or under shrimp (my recipe for Shrimp and grits).

The recipe:
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 pinch salt
1 cup quick (but NOT instant) grits
1/2 stick salted butter
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz garlic processed cheese, cubed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp Paprika
1-2 tsp Worchestershire

Bring the liquids to a boil.  Slowly pour in the grits, whisking constantly.  Cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the butter, cheeses, and seasonings.  Stir unil combined.
You can pour these into a greased casserole and reheat them at 350 until warm (this is what we do for Easter).

Oh, and my brother eats a lot.  So I made a lot of grits.  You can definitely half this recipe.

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