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November 22, 2021

Cheesy Bacon and Chive Grits

Cheesy Bacon and Chive Grits

This version of grits is intended to be served as a savory option so if you are looking for a sweet, breakfast-type version of grits, this is not it. This version is smokey, salty, cheesy, and of course, corney!

These grits are perfect as a stand alone dish or amazing for Shrimp-N-Grits or another complementary protein such as pork or chicken.

What are Grits?

At this point, almost everyone has heard about grits and have most likely heard some side of the debate over whether grits are a savory side or a breakfast dish and what is supposed to be added to them. Whether you prefer them sweet, with brown sugar and maple syrup, or savory, with cheese, butter and cream, grits are a highly underrated dish that display a high-level of versatility.

Grits came to be as a form of preserving a year's corn harvest to be enjoyed throughout the year. When you break it down, grits are essentially dried corn kernels that have been ground in some form. The corn that is typically used to produce grits tend to be more starchy and less sweet than common corn.The corn is shucked, cut, and then ground and dried. The size of the “kernels” and how large they are ground typically distinguish the type of grit, and if it is actually classified as a grit.

Types of Grits

  • Stone-ground: Stone-ground, or whole-ground grits are a coarser type of grit that is broken into pieces that are the largest in size in comparison to other grinds. While this type of grit certainly takes the most time to cook, you can achieve an “almost al dente” texture that makes the extra cooking time worth it. When eating a properly cooked stone-ground grit, you will experience a similar texture and “sauce-like coating” as to when you enjoy risotto.
  • Regular (Quick): This type of grits is the most common type found in stores and is a finer grind than the stone-ground grits. They only require between 10-15 minutes cooking time but are closer in texture to a porridge or oatmeal than a risotto. With the finer grind, you tend to lose a bit of the pure corn flavor but the texture will be smoother.
  • Instant: As with almost everything good, producers have created a short-cut method for replicating a traditional dish. While you will almost certainly lose all the essence of the corn flavor using these, they could be an adequate replacement if you have a servious grit craving and are pressed on time. These can take as little as 2-5 minutes to cook.

Ingredients for Cheesy, Bacon and Chive Grits

  • Bacon: Lets’ be honest, bacon makes everything better, but bacon and corn may be one of my favorite flavor combinations out there. The tones of salt and smoke pair perfectly with the sweet corn flavor in the grits. While the dish is still good without the bacon, the bacon really takes it to the next level.
  • Cheese: While you can really use any cheese you would like, I prefer gouda because it is a creamy cheese with a nice nutty flavor profile that provides complementary depth to the grits.
  • Herbs: Chives are the herb of choice here because they provide a sharp, but subtle burst of onion that cuts through the richness of the rest of the dish. If you don’t have chives, scallions are an easy substitution. If you don’t like onion, you can replace it with parsley, chervil, or thyme.
  • Flavoring: The tabasco, worcestershire, and lemon balance out the grits and provide a complexity that will keep you coming back after each bite.
  • Liquid: Depending on the type and brand of grits you chose, you may have to use either more or less amounts of liquid when cooking the grits. To maintain the balance of texture, flavor and richness, I use an equal ratio of water/heavy cream/chicken stock.


Tips for Making the Best Grits

  1. Add liquid as needed: The amount of liquid needed to cook the grits may vary based on the type and brand of grits you buy. As a rule of thumb, once the liquid is almost fully evaporated, try a small amount of the grits and check the texture. If the grits are still crunchy, add another ¼ cup to ½ cup of water and continue cooking until the grits are no longer crunchy, but have a texture similar to properly cooked rice instead.
  2. Cook the grits on a low heat and stir often: Once you add the grits to the pot, make sure you turn the heat down and cook on a low heat. When the grits start to cook, especially when they are close to being fully cooked, they will start to bubble and pop (similar to tomato sauce). Cooking on a low and even heat, while stirring, will help to prevent the grits from possibly burning, and ensure all the grits cook evenly.
  3. Don’t skip toasting the grits: After you first add the grits to the pot (step 5), make sure you take the time to gently toast the grits in the pot. When you toast the grits, (similar to toasting nuts) you bring out a toasted, popcorn-like flavor that makes the grits stand out.

After you try these cheesy, bacon and chive grits you won't be going back! They make for a great side dish to any meal.

Cheers and eat well!

Cheesy Bacon and Chive Grits

This grits recipe has the perfect balance between the smoky and salty bacon flavor with the cheesy and nutty gouda, cut with the subtle hints of onion and lemon, all encapsulated in a subtly-sweet creamy corn vessel.

Author:

Jamie Imlah

Prep:

15

min

cook:

20

min

total:

35

min

serves:

8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • ½ cup yellow onion (small diced)
  • 4 ounces butter
  • ½ cup bacon (diced)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chives (chopped)
  • 6 dashes (about ¼ teaspoon) worcestershire sauce
  • 6 dashes (about ¼ teaspoon) tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup gouda (shredded or chopped)
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and add a splash of oil once it becomes hot (about 20-30 seconds), and then the diced bacon.
  2. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, on medium heat, for about 6 minutes, or until the bacon starts to become crisp.
  3. Add the diced yellow onion, stir to evenly distribute with the bacon, and continue to cook on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.
  4. Once the onions have cooked and start to become translucent, add the butter and melt, stirring occasionally as it melts.
  5. Once all the butter melts into the bacon and onions, add the grits. Stir to evenly distribute and continue to cook on a low heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. After 3 minutes (the grits should start to smell like popcorn), Add the chicken stock and water and stir to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add the heavy cream and bring the grits to a very gentle simmer. Continue to cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the grits have a very mild bite. (The cooking time and amount of liquid needed may vary depending on the brand of grits purchased. Refer to the cooking instructions on the package for reference.)
  8. Once the liquid has almost fully evaporated and the grits have a very subtle bite remaining (similar to perfectly cooked rice), turn off the heat and add the salt, tabasco, worcestershire, lemon juice, chives, and cheese and stir to incorporate
  9. Once all the cheese has melted, taste the grits and fine-tune the seasoning to your liking.

Note: The cooking time and amount of liquid ingredients used may vary in accordance with the brand of grits used. Refer to the package for cooking times and quantity of liquid.

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