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Question: Ever had cheese on your grits?
Hell yeah!  I'm eatin' some right now.   -5 (12.8%)
Nope.  I prefer my grits sans fromage   -9 (23.1%)
Grits?!  Dude, that's black people food.   -10 (25.6%)
what's a grit?   -15 (38.5%)
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Total Voters: 39

Author Topic: Cheesy Grits  (Read 1663 times)
angus
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« on: March 22, 2012, 01:39:23 pm »
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I'm obsessed with the idea of cheese on grits ever since I first heard of it about a week ago.

I like all that native american maize--hominy, grits, polenta, farina, corn tortillas.  I think I was a Mexican in my previous life--and even I can't imagine eating cheese on grits.  Although, if it were queso fresco, crumbled and gently heated, it'd probably be good.  It's good that way on polenta, farina, and white corn tortillas, which are all basically the same thing as grits. 

Problem is, when I first heard of cheesy grits, from a televised news report on the Romney campaign, I googled it and found that the "cheese" wasn't the sort of cheese that normally gets served on hominy-based products.  It was like Velveeta or something, which isn't really cheese at all (In 2002, the FDA required kraft to change the "processed cheese spread" label to a "processed cheese product" label.  Mmmmm, processed cheese product.)  I'm just not buying that Romney is into that yellow-colored, partially-hydrogenated cottonseed oil that passes for cheese in some parts, even if he is a white corn man like myself.

I'm wondering if anyone here has ever tried it?  If so, is it a tasty treat?  Where can I get some?
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angus
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 03:31:40 pm »
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Okay, apparently you can buy grits in the supermarket.  I've only ever had them at restaurants, chains like Denny's, and at the All-U-Can-Eat breakfast buffet places like Shoney's, and in some breakfast-included hotels along the interstate, and once at a small diner in NYC when I saw it on the menu.  I think I posted about that here when I was living in Manhattan a few years ago.  In all those places I always saw it served plain, and you could opt for salt and pepper.  I actually used some hot sauce on it as well.  Not bad with hot sauce, but then everything goes well with hot sauce so that's not surprising.  Unfortunately restaurants never have anything good like Melinda's XXXXtra reserve sauce or El Yucateco salsa verde.  They seem only ever to have that vinegary Mcilhenny tabasco sauce.  Don't know why that one's so popular.  Marketing, I suppose.  

Anyway, I've found on google that you can actually buy boxes of grits, so all you have to do is add water and make your own at home.  How cool is that?  My guess is that it won't be as tasty as the freshly ground and alkalined maize, like you see the old Maya women pounding in small villages in the Yucatan peninsula, but it's probably the same quality that you'd get under the heat lamps at Shoney's.  And the nice thing about buying a box and making it at home is that you can put any kind of cheese you like on it.  You could try a nice Vermont yellow cheddar, or brie (I'd cut the bloom of the edge if I were going to use brie) or even chavrie.  I'll probably use a little freshly grated mozzarella on my first try, and lots of black pepper and salt.  

Mr. Food suggests the following recipe:

3 1/2 cups water
    1 cup white or yellow grits
    1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
    4 tablespoons butter
    1/4 cup milk
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add grits and cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick.
     
Remove from heat and add cheese and butter; stir until melted.
     
Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Serve immediately.



Anyway, I'm going to look around the oatmeal and malt-o-meal aisle next time I'm in the grocery store to see if I can find any boxed instant grits.  I've probably walked past it a million times and never noticed it, but now I'll be sure to look for it.  
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 03:38:17 pm by angus »Logged
memphis
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 03:40:24 pm »
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Grits are awful. I feel very fortunate not to have to subsist on corn gruel.
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angus
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 03:49:24 pm »
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Grits are awful. I feel very fortunate not to have to subsist on corn gruel.

It may be an acquired taste, but I don't ever remember a time when I didn't like white corn, My son gags every time we go near a tortilleria when we're on vacation in Mexico, so I never offered him any polenta ("grits" to gringos).  And the few times I've brought corn tortillas home, my wife won't go near them.  She only likes the flour ones.  Yet, they both love corn.  They like corn on the cob, corn from a can, frozen corn, salty corn, peppery corn, little bitty corn cobs like you find in Chinese dishes, and cornbread.  How can you like corn and not like grits?  It could be the pH.  Grits/polenta/whitemaize/etc. all have a much higher pH than corn, and the process that makes them causes a reaction with the sugars that render it much less sweet than the corn that grows on stalks.  I suppose that's what people like about corn, the fact that it's sweet.  As for me, I could go my whole life without eating a corn on the cob and I'd be happy.  I'm not a big fan of yellow corn.  Then again, I'm really not into sweets.  But give me a white corn tortilla or a polenta soup and I'll scarf it down.  
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 03:57:41 pm »
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Grits are awful. I feel very fortunate not to have to subsist on corn gruel.

It may be an acquired taste, but I don't ever remember a time when I didn't like white corn, My son gags every time we go near a tortilleria when we're on vacation in Mexico, so I never offered him any polenta ("grits" to gringos).  And the few times I've brought corn tortillas home, my wife won't go near them.  She only likes the flour ones.  Yet, they both love corn.  They like corn on the cob, corn from a can, frozen corn, salty corn, peppery corn, little bitty corn cobs like you find in Chinese dishes, and cornbread.  How can you like corn and not like grits?  
There's a huge difference between sweet corn and field corn.
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I was naturally suited to be a lawyer, almost from birth. It was as if, almost, God had willed it. He meant for me to be here, to punish you, and then punish you some more.
I refuse to die a martyrs death here, because you know why?  Martyrs are still dead.
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2012, 04:07:38 pm »
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I bet you also like nutella on your crÍpes.  Or strawberry goulash.  I prefer shredded pork on mine.  I have found that there are those who go in for sweet fillings, and those who go for the more savory flavors.  Same goes for bagels:  some like cinnamon, raisin, or blueberries with their bagels.  I like onion or garlic with mine. 

I never cross-referenced this, but I'd hazard a guess that those who would choose a garlic bagel over a blueberry bagel are the same types who would choose hominy and hot sauce over a corn on the cob.

Probably wouldn't bet ten thousand dollars on it, though.  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2012, 04:39:46 pm »
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I bet you also like nutella on your crÍpes.  Or strawberry goulash.  I prefer shredded pork on mine.  I have found that there are those who go in for sweet fillings, and those who go for the more savory flavors.  Same goes for bagels:  some like cinnamon, raisin, or blueberries with their bagels.  I like onion or garlic with mine. 

I never cross-referenced this, but I'd hazard a guess that those who would choose a garlic bagel over a blueberry bagel are the same types who would choose hominy and hot sauce over a corn on the cob.

Probably wouldn't bet ten thousand dollars on it, though.  Wink
There is room for sweet and for salty on my plate. It just depends on the food in question. I like pretzels salty and dessert sweet. Corn mush I can do without altogether. And the best thing in a bagel is, of course, smoked fish.
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I was naturally suited to be a lawyer, almost from birth. It was as if, almost, God had willed it. He meant for me to be here, to punish you, and then punish you some more.
I refuse to die a martyrs death here, because you know why?  Martyrs are still dead.
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 04:40:39 pm »
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They're okay, I guess.
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angus
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 05:31:36 pm »
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A follow-up.  There was no seminar today so I left a little early. 

The purchase

As it turns out, the local super does have grits.  Two kinds, in fact:  Quaker grits and Quaker instant grits.  The instant grits featured butter flavor, and that did not appeal, so I opted for the regular grits.  They were about where I thought they'd be, on the aisle with malt-o-meal and oatmeal and wheat bran rice meal and other hot breakfast cereals, but they were very low, on the lowest shelf, which is probably why I never noticed them.  The Quaker regular grits come in a 24-ounce paper can, with plastic lid, and sells for $2.15.  I also picked up a small block of Monterrey Jack. 

The preparation

Following the directions, I poured 3/4 cup of Quaker grits into 3 cups of vigorously boiling water, added a dash of salt, stirred it, reduced the heat, and covered it and let it simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  I then served my son a small bowl of it.  Predictably, he sniffed it, gagged, and absolutely refused to even give it a try.  (That's his mother's influence, I think.  She spoils him.  After slaving away in the kitchen for hours, she serves him, and if he doesn't like it, she goes back to the kitchen to make something else.)  On a brighter note, my wife seemed to approve of the grits, but only after she cut some pork and green onion into it.  Basically, that's her solution to all food crises:  add stir-friend pork and green onion.  As for myself, I opted for a goodly portion of the monterrey jack, which I diced with a knife rather than grating, and mixed it into the hot grit porridge.

The judgement

I'd have to say, after having tried them with an open mind, that I prefer my grits sans fromage, so that's how I'll vote.  Now, it could just be my choice of cheeses, but I like all sorts of cheeses so I don't think so.  Or, it could have been the wine pairing.  Truth be told, I should have served it with a delicate pinot grigio, but I don't have any white wines at the moment.  I've a basement full of wine, but they're all peppery Spanish riojas or gritty Lang d'oc-Rousillons or fiesty Aussie Shiraz or velvety California Cabernet Sauvignons, so I picked out a decent Jacob's Creek Shiraz 2008.  But I have a little of the WalterMitty in me, to be honest, and I'd say that any wine is good wine, especially if it's red wine, so I don't think it was the pairing either.  I just think that I prefer pepper, salt, and a little hot sauce on my grits.  No butter.  No cheese.  After all, I don't take milk in my coffee and I don't take milk in my tea, so why should I want any on my grits?

Overall, I cannot recommend cheese on grits.  Thank you for your attention in this important matter.
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2012, 05:38:08 pm »
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I swear to God I don't know what grits are.
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2012, 05:47:47 pm »
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You lived in Mississippi for several years and never ate cheese (NOT CHEESY) grits?  Wild.

I've had instant grits from the grocery store lots of time, and there's many varieties of them, including different flavors of cheese grits.  They're all fine, though none are particularly great or anything.
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2012, 05:57:31 pm »
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I prefer my grits with salt, chocolate dressing, peach-flavoured sauce, cheesecake and ketchup. Mmmmmmm.
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2012, 06:00:42 pm »
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I swear to God I don't know what grits are.

Yeah, not only have I never had them, I've never even seen what they look like.
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angus
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2012, 06:19:57 pm »
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You lived in Mississippi for several years and never ate cheese (NOT CHEESY) grits?  Wild.

Three years.  Had grits a few times there.  To be fair, I've also ordered grits at a restaurant not far from my house when I lived in Manhattan (yes, I lved pretty close to the 'hood).  I've also had grits on little interstate highway buffet breakfast dives.  Don't recall that I ever saw them served with cheese.  Always they were served with salt, and pepper was an option.  I saw a few folks drowning them in butter (especially in Mississippi), but I can't say that I'd ever seen them with cheese till Willard mentioned it.  Mind you, it's not something I seek out, the way I seek out certain kinds of meats or booze--after all, my two favorite food groups remain the meat group and the booze group--so I may have overlooked them on a menu, somewhere, sometime.  

And, to be fair, I have had my share of white corn tortillas with queso fresco on various trips way down south (farther south than Mississippi, I can assure you) but I can't honestly say I've ever put the two seemingly disparate concepts of cheese and grits together before this season's GOP nominating contest.  And now that I've tasted them, I can't say that I ever will again.


I've had instant grits from the grocery store lots of time, and there's many varieties of them, including different flavors of cheese grits.  They're all fine, though none are particularly great or anything.

'round here they got two kinds:  Quaker grits and Quaker instant grits.  And they're on the bottom shelf.  And there are maybe four boxes of each (This is a giant mega grocery store that probably stocks as many as 100 large boxes of Quaker Oats at any given time, just for perspective.)  I'm guessing that grits aren't a big seller in Iowa.  Bratwursts, on the other hand, are another matter.  Man, I never saw so many, or so many different kinds, of bratwursts till I came to Iowa, but that's another diatribe.


Anyway, I'll probably finish off this 24-ounce can with salt and hot sauce.  Probably have them once every two weeks over the next several months, something like that, then I'll probably live the rest of my life without purchasing another container of Quaker grits ever again.  I will, however, continue to sample the grits from the various buffets as my travels may take me from time to time.  Just because I don't like 'em with cheese doesn't mean that I don't like 'em.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 06:26:56 pm by angus »Logged
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2012, 07:04:21 pm »
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Who voted for black people food?
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2012, 08:16:03 pm »
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Some southern food is exciting, some the good kind of exciting, mostly the gross kind of exciting.  And some southern food is boring as Dothan Alabama.  Grits fall into the latter category.
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2012, 09:16:58 pm »
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Dothan Alabama


Maybe Dothan finds you just as boring as you find Dothan.  I didn't find Dothan particularly boring.  I certainly found enough to occupy my 14 or so hours in Dothan. 

I spent a night there once when we were on our way back to Iowa from Clearwater, taking it slowly.  Motel Six I think it was.  Big statue of Elvis out front.  Very kitch.  I had my bicycle strapped to the trunk and took it down for a ride around town.  I think I spent a couple of hours touring Dothan.  Got back and took a nice long swim in the hotel pool, then we had a relaxing dinner near the hotel.  My son was about 2 at the time and we strolled him about a little.  It was all very pleasant, as I recall.
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2012, 09:53:46 pm »
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Matt Cain was born in Dothan, Alabama.
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2012, 10:34:27 pm »
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I swear to God I don't know what grits are.

Imagine cooking a paste of flour and water. Subsitute coarse corn meal for the flour. That's grits. The ultimate poverty food. Which is why it's so particularly preposterous that Mitt Romney would get excited about eating it.
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I was naturally suited to be a lawyer, almost from birth. It was as if, almost, God had willed it. He meant for me to be here, to punish you, and then punish you some more.
I refuse to die a martyrs death here, because you know why?  Martyrs are still dead.
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2012, 02:09:14 am »
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I've always loved grits. Instant grits are bearable, but good homemade grits are absolutely excellent, and an essential part of a full breakfast (which also includes eggs, plenty of bacon and/or sausage, homemade pancakes of some variety, several warm and flaky biscuits, and a large cup of strong coffee [or maybe just orange juice]). At Tulane I occasionally made such meals for my friends as a "breakfast for dinner" type thing, and everyone loved it. Some of the Yankees were hesitant to try grits because they were entirely unfamiliar with the food (and yeah, if you've never seen it before I guess it looks a bit weird), but in the end a lot of people were surprised by the fact that they actually liked them.

To make them well, you need some cheese, without overdoing it. IMO, sharp cheddar works pretty well, though in a bind I once used "Fiesta Blend" cheese and it ended up tasting good too. You don't want to mix much cheese into the pot of grits, as that just gives them a strange consistency and color. Put a little bit of cheese into the pot, to help the general flavor, and then sprinkle some more on the top of each bowl you scoop out. Also, be fairly liberal with the salt and pepper. If you want to experiment I've heard that adding shrimp with cajun seasoning to grits can be tasty, too.

I suppose it's really just a comfort food for me; my parents, grandparents, and pretty much every other relative I know makes grits for breakfast all the time. Also, yes, it's cheese grits, not "cheesy" grits. Tongue
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2012, 02:33:55 am »
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I've never had grits either.
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2012, 09:49:10 am »
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so it's basically a corn pancake?
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2012, 10:03:52 am »
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^Ive only had them a long time ago- the consistency is closer to oatmeal than a pancake.
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« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2012, 12:18:24 pm »
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The aftermath

So this morning there was a lumpy smear of white substance in the pot.  It had dried overnight, but not completely.  No longer having a porridge consistency, it looked very much as if someone had run a heteropolymerization reaction in the pot and let it cure naturally, allowing the solvents evaporate.  Having had some experience cleaning such vessels I fretted over cleaning the residual grit from the pot.  As it turns out, clean-up is breezy.  I went in at an acute angle with a big spoon in order to start scraping, but the whole thing just lifted up, flopping about like rubber.  One, big, amorphous, irregularly-shaped lump of white corn paste came out on the spoon, with very little sticking to the stainless steel pot.  Washing the pot required one swipe of a soapy sponge.  How easy is that?  I did try tasting it, of course.  Hair of the dog and all that.  Nasty, it was, and I cannot recommend cold grits.  Grits should only be taken hot, not long after cooking.  Any grit left over should be composted or maybe fed to the cat, if you have one.  
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« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2012, 01:59:35 pm »
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I've had the instant stuff from the grocery store before.  It didn't taste very cheesy at all to me.
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