Sunday, April 10, 2011

Creamy Cheddar Grits

When I am feeling sick, there are a few basic dishes that I generally want - Vietnamese chicken noodle soup and pho usually top the list.  But I'm dealing with a sore throat right now and all I could think of was how great grits would be.  I guess grits are kind of like congee and cream of wheat, both of which I consider to be serious sick day food, so maybe my craving makes more sense than I first thought.  Anyway, I had been saving this Creamy Cheddar Grits recipe for the day when I finally have people over for brunch (which I have been talking about for years and we have never gotten around to doing) or when I finally make shrimp and grits at home (another thing I have been talking about forever but haven't gotten around to).  But grits sounded too good to pass up today, so I went ahead and made them.  And they were delicious.  Even Alex, who isn't generally a huge fan of grits, really enjoyed these.  Between the two of us we plowed our way through a heaping bowl of grits.  They are creamy and cheesy, with the bright oniony flavor of the scallions making the dish a little lighter than it would be otherwise.  Alex said that the scallions were the thing that really made the dish.  It has never occurred to me to add scallions to grits before, but it was really delicious.  The dish is still a bit of a gutbuster, but in the best way possible.  It's wonderfully homey and comforting.  And it was exactly what I wanted to help me get over feeling under the weather.

Recipe after the jump!

Creamy Cheddar Grits
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
By Ina Garten

2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup fine quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1 1/4 cups half-and-half (we didn't have half-and-half so we used a mixture of heavy cream and skim milk)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups aged sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (4 oz), plus additional for garnish (we used extra sharp)
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions), plus additional for garnish
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy 4 quart saucepan.  Add salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin, steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5-7 minutes.

Add half-and-half and butter to the grits and stir.  The mixture will seem thin but it will thicken as it cooks.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minuts, until very smooth and creamy.  Off the heat, stir in the Cheddar, scallions, and pepper.  Season to taste and serve hot with a sprinkle of Cheddar and scallions to garnish.

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