What can we say about grits other than, “they’re pretty ‘grit’ “? Many moons ago, before this long and cold winter came and overstayed its welcome (it’s still here!), Jane and I were reading recipes online and somehow got on the topic of grits. “What are these crazy ‘grit’ things, and how do they taste?”, we wondered. Being the “good northerners” that we were, we proceeded to mock them and spread nasty rumors about how we’ve heard that they’re something like oatmeal. Boy, were we ever wrong.
Grits, my friends, are an amazing and versatile dish made from crushed, dried corn kernels that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They can also be mixed with cheese, meat, and vegetables to contend as a main dish in their own right, guaranteed to stick to your ribs and provide you with that good ole “southern comfort” feeling. After making and eating grits, we repented of our ignorant northerner ways, and invited grits into our home as a family recipe. Since that time, we have begun to experiment by using grits as a base for amazing main dishes, such as this recipe here.
To make our delicious steamy ham and cheese grits, you will need the list of ingredients below, an 8″x4″ meatloaf pan (nonstick works best), and an oven preheated to 350 degrees. You may find that an 8″x4″ pan does not make nearly enough of these delicious grits (we never have leftovers with this size). In that case, you can double the recipe for an 8″x8″ pan (this also fits well in a 9″x9″), or triple the recipe for a 9″x13″ pan of these steamy grits.
Steamy ham and cheese grits
(Makes 1 8″x4″ pan)
By Jane and Michael’s Gourmet Extravaganza (Adapted from Betty Crocker)
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of uncooked corn grits (we used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of pepper
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 tsp of minced garlic
- 1/2 cup of chopped ham
- 1/2 cup of grated cheese, plus more for topping
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp of butter
To begin, first place 1 cup of water, 1 cup of milk, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper into a sauce pan on the stove at just above medium heat. Bring the milk and water mixture to boil being careful not to scorch it or have it boil over, and transfer it to a burner on medium low heat. Immediately stir in 1/2 cup of grits, and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After the 5 minutes are up, remove grits from heat, and chop green onions (including stems), ham, and garlic (if necessary). Place the 1/2 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup of chopped ham, 2 chopped green onions, and 1 tsp of minced garlic into the hot grits and mix thoroughly.
Just as a reminder, all of the mixing of the ingredients needs to be done after the grits have been removed from the stove. The reason is due to the next step — mixing in the egg. The mixing of the egg can be very tricky if the grits are too hot, since it will cook the egg immediately and you will end up with chunks of cooked egg in your grits. If your grits have cooled down enough, you can simply crack the egg into the grits and stir them very quickly to get a homogeneous grits-egg mixture. Otherwise, there’s a nice trick to mixing the egg in by cracking the egg into its own bowl, and gradually mixing the hot grits into the egg so that it does not cook it. This egg-grit mixture in the bowl can then be poured into the rest of the grits for a nice mixture of grits and egg.
At this point, your grits should look something like the picture above. Place the warm, mixed grits into a nonstick 8″x4″ pan. Top these grits with grated cheese of your favorite type (I used a mixture of mozzarella, parmesan, and smoked gouda). Take the 2 Tbsp of butter, and with a butter knife slice dabs of butter and place them next to the edge of the pan on top of the grits — this step allows the grits to get a really crispy edge when baking that tastes simply “grit”. Any additional butter can be sliced into dabs and placed on top of the grits. Now bake the grits for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until set (you may need to bake longer than 30 minutes if you use a larger pan). Let stand for 5 minutes and serve this amazing dish of goodness.
If you are lucky enough to have leftovers of this amazing dish (very rare around here), you may find that the grits stiffen up after a little while in the refrigerator. The best way to eat grits after they have become this way is to fry them in butter. Try it, you’ll love it too!