City Grits

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I’ve avoided grits my whole life. I didn’t necessarily look down on them, but they couldn’t ever best my silky sweet cream of wheat. I didn’t even try them for the longest time. Why would you want to put salt and butter in there? I didn’t get it. When I finally embraced the South and dared to try this salty breakfast item that should be sweet, of course oh didn’t like it. I sure wouldn’t waste a meal at a restaurant on grits, they couldn’t be good. I got a side at a breakfast place after my astonished friends found out I still hadn’t had them. They were runny instant grits. They didn’t stand a chance. I probably spit them out.

I would sample them again every so often when I’d be in the mood. Always the same result though. Nope. And I still wouldn’t like those grits today. A runny mess that’s tasteless besides the salt and butter added to it isn’t good food. My opinion was slightly adjusted when I got some shrimp and grits, that was on special, at a pretty nice restaurant. At least a little effort was put in while making these, and it showed. They were actually good. Huh, who knew.

 

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Recently, I decided to get some at Another Broken Egg Cafe while at brunch with my girlfriend. I was totally blown away. I got them as an appetizer, but they were the main focus. They were so luscious and creamy, almost like risotto. The crumbled bacon, fresh tomatoes, and crisp green onions were perfect. Reluctantly I shared them.

I had to have them again. So, I set out, not to recreate it exactly, but to build on it. I’m not sure if it’s sacrilegious or whatever to do this, but I think the results are very much worth it.  I made a cheese sauce to add to the grits instead of just adding cheese straight in. It’s creamier and doesn’t run the risk of the cheese breaking and ruining the grits. Much better.

 

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Ingredients:

Grits:
1 cup stone ground grits
3.5 cups half and half
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cheese sauce:
1 oz goat cheese
2 oz smoked Gouda
2 oz cheddar
2 tbsp bacon fat
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cups milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder

Toppings:
6 slices thick sliced bacon – chopped
1 medium heirloom tomato – diced
2 green onions – chopped

Grits:
1.) Cook the bacon and set aside. Keep the drippings.
2.) Over low to medium low heat, bring the half and half to a simmer.
3.) Stir in the butter, salt, and pepper.
4.) Slowly whisk in the grits, and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until done.
5.) While the grits are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.
6.) When the grits are finished cooking, mix the cheese sauce in.
7.) Serve with the tomato, green onion, and bacon sprinkled over the top.

Cheese Sauce:
1.) Heat the bacon fat over medium heat.
2.) Stir in the flour to make a roux.
3.) Cook the roux for a few minutes, being careful to not let it burn.
4.) Slowly whisk in the milk. Break up any clumps.
5.) Cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to thicken.
6.) Mix in the salt, pepper, garlic, and nutmeg.
7) Stir in the shredded cheeses. After the cheese is fully incorporated, the sauce should be very smooth and creamy.

* If the grits still have some time to cook and the sauce is finished, turn heat to very low or warm and stir the sauce every minute or so.

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