Two seemingly unrelated events happened at around the same time: Michael’s parents were settling in to a new house in Savannah, and Ruhlman wrote a blog post entitled How To Make Grits. That post was also part of the impetus for my learning to poach eggs. The grits took a little longer.
I’ve had grits before, and frankly wasn’t all that impressed. They were more or less Cream of Wheat, with less flavor and more texture. They weren’t bad, mind you—they weren’t distinct enough to be deemed either good or bad. I have just never understood why Southerners are so attached to them with so many better starch options readily available. Toast! Pancakes! Oatmeal! Bagels! Really, folks! Well, actually I do understand nostalgic comfort food, but grits don’t happen to be on my list.
Still, the idea percolated. “Be sure to find good grits,” Ruhlman admonished, “not instant grits or any grits in a box from a big food company.” Maybe when I tried the real thing, I’d understand. After all, the difference between whole rolled oats and instant oatmeal is considerable, so why shouldn’t the right grits make all the difference? I kept an eye open at the grocery store, but all I saw were instant grits, which clearly would not do.
But we had a source in Savannah now. Last week Michael called to say, “You’ve got a little present from my mom here!” The dear woman had sent a bag of Charleston Favorites (est. 1670) yellow stone ground grits–a cunning little gunnysack of Southitude, all ready and waiting.
One of the challenges of non-instant grits is the cooking time. I do not wake up all bright and bushy-tailed, ready to spend half an hour or more stirring grits before I get breakfast inside of me. Of such things are bad mornings made. I decided to follow Ruhlman’s lead, and cook them the night before. After 30 minutes of simmering, the grits were a smooth creamy yellow porridge. I stirred in a handful of shredded cheddar cheese, some leftover diced chorizo, a few pinches of salt, covered the saucepan, and left the grits in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, as Michael made scrambled eggs and bacon, I peeled the solid hunk of cold grits from the saucepan, cut it into wedges, and fried the wedges in a little oil and a lot of butter. They sputtered like super-charged miniature popcorn, sending bits of hot grit everywhere until I clapped a lid on them.
The finished product was delicious, something like baked polenta with a golden brown fried crust. The mild corn flavor of the grits made an excellent vehicle for the more dominant flavors of the cheese and spicy sausage.
Grits with Chorizo and Cheese
- 1 ½ cups grits
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup diced chorizo, or other cooked sausage
- ½ tsp salt
- butter and oil for frying
Cook grits according to package directions. When grits are done cooking, stir in cheese, sausage, and salt. Cover and chill overnight. Turn out cold grits onto a cutting board and cut into four wedges. Fry in a non-stick pan with butter and oil over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.