Grits are Southern comfort food. I was never that enamoured with them, until I had grits with cream and cheese added. OH, yeah! So good and so versatile. You can eat them as is, with a nice plop of butter, melting and oozing into the grits, or use them as a side, instead of rice or mashed potatoes, or sprinkled with bacon. I had grits years ago, when we lived in Florida the first time. Meh! Everyone else seemed to like them; I just thought they were bland and totally uninteresting. But, then years later, I tasted them in Philadelphia. Those grits had cream and cheese added to them and well…those were worth writing home about. One night, as we were driving back to Florida, we stopped in Florence, South Carolina for the night. We had a wonderful dinner at a local place, the name of which escapes me completely. But, the She Crab Soup was great, as was their Shrimp and Grits. It was creamy, the shrimp perfectly pink and tender, with some spinach thrown in for color, served over grits. Anyway, I’ll try to find the name and post it, but don’t hold your breath. I do remember, it was on this cute little street, with shops and other restaurants, like a throwback to the past Main Street in a small town. Anyway, here we’re just talking about grits…Creamy, Cheesy Grits.
Down to business, I use quick grits, not instant. Those are a completely different animal, and one, I am told, not to be used or consumed. Sub-par! So, I use Bob’s Red Mill® Southern Grits. These are white grits To begin, use a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and combine the water, half-and-half and heavy cream, along with the salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, slowly pour the grits into the simmering mixture, whisking constantly so it doesn’t clump and get nasty. I whisk constantly for about 2 minutes, then a good whisking about every 60 seconds. Simmer for 5 minutes total. Pull the pan off of the heat source, pop a cover on and let stand for 5 minutes. Dump the shredded cheese on top and stir into the grits; I use a wooden spoon for this. You want the cheese to just melt, but don’t over-stir. Serve immediately, as is, in a bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil) and lots of black pepper. If the grits are thicker than you want, thin with additional half-and-half, to desired consistency. And that’s it. They are yummy as is, but can be the base, instead of potatoes or pasta, for something else, like shrimp! Or in this case, pan-seared scallops, drizzled with garlic, brown butter (see Scallops, the way they should be! and substitute the grits for the pasta).
Creamy, Cheesy Grits
- 2 cups water (or broth)
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste
- 1 cup white quick grits (see NOTE)
- 1 cups shredded cheese (Swiss, Gruyère or Gouda are all wonderful)
Combine the water, half-and-half and heavy cream, along with the salt, in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil. Using a whisk, slowly add the grits, whisking constantly. I whisk constantly for about 2 minutes. Then, give the mixture a good whisk about every 30 seconds. Cook for 5 minutes total. Remove from the heat source, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir into the grits. Serve immediately, as is, in a bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and lots of black pepper. If the grits are too thick, think with additional half-and-half to desired consistency.
NOTE: I use Bob’s Red Mill Southern-Style Grits; these are quick grits. Quick grits have a decent shelf life, but if you can find stone-ground grits, do try them. They will take about 30-45 minutes to cook and they should be stored in the fridge, as they spoil quickly…read rancid…not tasty! Grits make a great base for shrimp, scallops, stews, sautéed mushrooms…really anything you would use rice or mashed potatoes for, you may substitute grits.
Creamy, Cheesy Grits Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.