Kiss my grits! Oh, and how do I make them, anyway?

Cheesy Baked Grits

Cheesy Baked Grits

Donna sent in this question about grits:

Am curious about grits. Have never eaten them. Southern everyday item. Would be interested in technique and a recipe medium loaded with calories.
Thanks.
Grits are a Southern staple in the United States, but are eaten by people everywhere under various labels.  I remember my mother preparing "mush" for our breakfast; cornmeal cooked and served with sugar and milk.  Then, she poured the leftover mush into a loaf-shaped container and the next day she sliced it and fried it in bacon drippings and served it up with maple syrup and butter with our eggs. (I did not like either at all as a child, believe it or not!)  Eat grits in Italy and call it polenta.
Whatever you call it, there are myriad ways to prepare it, and today I am sharing a recipe that has loads of flavor and the richness you requested! When I first made these Cheesy Baked Grits (they have garlic, too) my first thought after tasting them was that they needed something meaty and saucy served with them.  An Italian-style meat sauce would work, but I liked the idea of a rich, brown sauce better. Check out the recipe for Crock Pot Beef Ragout with Onions (coming in the November Edition), created to be the perfect entree to serve with this! This combination is now one of Barry's favorites!  Enjoy, and be sure to share your experiences with the recipes in the comments below! 

Cheesy Baked Grits

This makes enough to serve 8, but you can easily halve the recipe.

6 cups water

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups yellow grits (not instant, I used Bob's Red Mill)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 pound Cheddar cheese; coarsely grated, about 2 cups

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees, and put the rack in the center position.

Bring the water and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 4-quart heavy pot.  Add the grits to the pot slowly, streaming them in while stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently at first to prevent sticking, until they are very thick and dry, about 30 minutes.  (They will spit and pop, and you may feel that they are cooked, but let them cook the entire 30 minutes-it is amazing how thick they become!)

When the time is up, remove from the heat and add the butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, garlic, and cheese, stirring until the butter and cheese have melted.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs, and the milk and mix well.  Stir into the grits and mix until very well combined.  Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish that is about 2 inches deep, sprinkle with the black pepper, and bake until set and lightly browned, about an hour.  Serve immediately!

Note:  I had leftovers, so in the spirit of my mother's breakfasts, I tried frying slices in a half butter-half oil mixture.  It worked great!  I cut the slices about an inch thick and cooked them on both sides over medium heat until they were golden (they pop and spit, so I covered them with a spatter screen!) and served them with some reheated left-over Beef Ragout.  Amazing!

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