Cheesy Baked Grits

This recipe came about from an "Ask the Chef" question; and I am so glad it was asked!  These baked grits are tasty, and the perfect foil for a sauce or ragout.  The Crock Pot Beef Ragout with Onions was my answer to what to serve on top!  Eat these right away, and the leftover can be chilled, sliced and fried for another tasty version of the same dish.  Enjoy!

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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