Recipe: Cheesy Chive Grits

Yet another way to use the herbs growing in the basement.

Grits used to be just a southern thing but in the past few years they've shown up on menus here in Boston. Restaurant grits are great but I prefer to make my own - cheaper and you get to eat more. Grits are usually a breakfast food, but you can eat them any time (especially if you get fancy and call them 'polenta').

The only rule: Don't use instant grits.

Read the instructions on the package. You want grits that require at least 15 minutes of cooking. Some grits need at least 45 minutes, but you can cook them all day if you have the patience - I don't. I prefer "grittier" grits, stone ground if possible. You don't have to spend extra for "artisan" grits if you have cheaper stone ground grits available. While visiting Dylan's family in Georgia, I found the "House Autry" Stone Ground grits to be very respectable and a steal at $2.50 for a 1.5 lb bag.

Here in Cambridge, my go-to grit is Bob's Red Mill because I can get it at the grocery down the street. One day they were sold out, so I went to Formaggio Kitchen (also in the neighborhood) for a substitute. They had some local grits and Anson Mills, both fabulous grits but too expensive for me. I decided to try this Italian polenta instead.

It is stone ground, made from a fancy heirloom corn variety and about the same price as Bob's. I also appreciated that it came in a big bag. There was a nice corn smell and you can see an interesting mix of yellow corn chunks, finer ground corn, and little black bits. I'd buy them again.

Cooking grits is easy. Follow the directions on the package.

But I did say this blog post was a recipe, and maybe you've got grits from the bulk bin that didn't come with instructions, so this is how I generally do it:

Approximate Grits

Water to Grits ratio is usually a 3:1
Bring water to a boil
Add grits and stir
Turn heat down to low and stir occasionally
If the grits thicken up before they are fully cooked, add more water and cook some more.
Do a taste test. Grits should be toothsome, but not crunchy.

The fun part is deciding what to add to your grits. I usually start with a little butter, salt, and a few glugs of milk. If I'm feeling spicy, I cook the grits with a sliced jalapeno or add pepperjack cheese. Or try cooking your grits with a parmesan rind floating around in there.

You can top a bowl of grits with just about anything. Shrimp, leftover bbq, bacon, more cheese, roasted veg, or herbs. This time I used cheddar, fresh chives from my basement herb garden, and a few twists of black pepper. I've heard you can slice and fry leftover grits, but I never have leftovers.