Monday, December 22, 2008

Grits Two Ways: Yankee and Redneck (with bonus notes on Kraft Garlic Cheese)

Grits is not something I grew up eating. I didn't really know what it was other than some exotic dish mentioned in books set in the South. Eventually I met Southerners who would wax poetic about grits, but also insist you couldn't get the real thing above the Mason-Dixon line. Since I avoid traveling down South, I didn't taste them until a couple years ago when I visited a friend in Atlanta, GA. I had grits with cheese several times and found out I loved it. When I returned from my trip I decided to try making them at home. Alton Brown did an episode of "Good Eats" about grits, and well. My evil plan came together

Alton Brown's "Yankee" Grits

2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded

Place the milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time.

I *love* these grits. Strangely my cat also adores them will all but claw off my face to get herself some. I like having grits for breakfast with scrambled eggs and hot sauce on top.

Kassie was born and raised in the South and insists that the Alton Brown's recipe is yankee nonsense and grits are supposed to be baked and shouldn't be made with milk. I've pointed out that Alton Brown is from Georgia, but Kassie countered that she is a redneck and clearly knows best. This is her recipe for grits.

Kassie's Southern Grits

Cook a cup of stone ground grits in three cups chicken broth. As needed, add more broth. You need to cook it at least a half hour, but you can keep adding broth and stirring for a long time. If you're cooking something else just add broth by the half cup as you're cooking other things.

When you're finished with everything else, add either garlic powder to taste (this is the authentic redneck method) or a pulped clove of fresh garlic. If you add fresh garlic, cook about ten minutes more (adding broth and stirring) to cook the garlic a bit. Remove from heat and add two tablespoons of butter.

Return to heat and add an asston of cheese (this is a real measurement). You don't have to use cheddar (but usually people do), you can use pepper jack or farmer's cheese or combos--go buck wild (sorry but no Kraft Garlic Cheese*, though)! When the cheese is melted, add another half cup of liquid (you can use water or milk or broth, to taste) and some hot sauce (to taste), and dump the whole shebang in a greased (here I will admit to buttering the dish not Paming it) and bake at 400F for like a half hour or until browned or until you can stand it.

Be prepared to fight people off your plate.

*My mom said she couldn't find Kraft Garlic Cheese and told me to go online and order it. Yeah, how about I go on the internet and investigate? [Does so.] Holy shit, they stopped making it and there's a riot all over the internet! WHAT THE FUCK????????? How could they just stop making this stuff? If you aren't Southern (and here I'm being American-centric as usual) you probably have no idea what discontinuation of this product means, but this is disastrous for tons and tons of family recipes. *weeps* Cheese balls are like my treasured most favorite holiday food! (It's disgusting, I know, but I'm sure you have some crap food you love, too.)

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