Updated Classic: Cheesy Grits

Ashley Matsuzak

Grits are a very popular Southern dish that was first thought to be eaten by the Native Americans. Grits are made from corn, and they can be either yellow or white in color, depending on if they are made from hulled corn or ground corn. Grits production is a huge business in the South. The region from Texas to Virginia is actually referred to as “the grits belt.”
Warm, satisfying and tasty, grits is the quintessential comfort food, and also, quite easy to make. Quick cooking grits can be found in any grocery store, and there are endless combinations to what you can add to yours. Whether it’s simple milk and butter, or maybe a little bit more dressed up with Parmesan cheese and herbs, grits is the perfect vehicle for a variety of flavor combinations. This recipe is made with sharp cheddar and a French Swiss cheese called Gruyere. If you don’t like Swiss cheese, you can substitute 1 ½ cups of cheddar. I encourage you to test out your favorite cheeses, and see what combinations you can come up with. This one is my favorite.

Cheesy Grits
Serves 4-6
4 pieces of bacon, cooked until crispy, then diced
1 cup fine quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups half and half
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¾ cup gruyere cheese, grated
pinch of cayenne pepper (the more you add, the spicier
they’ll be)
½ tsp black pepper

Boil about 1 quart of water and salt it. Slowly add the grits to the water, and stir it constantly. Turn the heat down to medium low, and stir the grits every minute or so until they are thickened. This process takes about 5 minutes.
After the grits have thickened, stir in the butter and half and half. Turn up the heat briefly to bring the grits back up to a simmer (low boil) and then lower the heat back down to low and cover for 45 minutes. Open the lid and give the grits a stir every five minutes or so, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Once the grits are done (you can tell because they are very smooth, almost like mashed potatoes) turn the heat off and add the cheese, cayenne and black pepper. Put a little bit of crumbled bacon on the top of each serving, as well as some extra cheese.
Grits make a really hearty side dish, but a small bowl can be enough all on its own. Enjoy.