When we were kids, we ate a lot of grits. Being from New Jersey, this was unusual. People in NJ do not really eat grits, most people don’t even know what they are. Friends would sleep over and my mom would make grits and ham for breakfast and when she would set them in front of them, they were unsure what they were. In fact, grits in NJ were so unusual that my grandmother would have to mail order them from South Carolina. She would always give us each a bag of stone ground grits for Christmas. You can get instant grits, but they are no where near as good as the real deal.
One of the trends that Rick Bayless identified in the Sargento Flavor Journey was the use of ancient grains. Grits are ground corn. Almost all cultures have some form of ground corn that is a staple in their diet. Italians have polenta, Mexicans have masa, and here in the United States, we have grits. I love grits, but do not make them very often. That is going to change. Usually I make grits on the stovetop, but I wanted to try baking them and I am so glad that I did. They are rich, creamy, and are really easy to make and customize any way that you like. I wanted to make mine really cheesy and have a little kick. Just like when I am making macaroni and cheese, I like to use a few different kinds of cheese. I think that it is more flavorful than just using one kind. I used a Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, and a sharp cheddar. Feel free to make these as spicy as you like, you can always add more hot sauce and some cayenne pepper.
Grits are incredibly versatile. You can eat them with a pat of butter or with red-eye gravy for breakfast . It is also a great base for seafood dishes like shrimp and grits (obviously), or shrimp Creole.
1 1/2 cups Sargento® Traditional Cut Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
1 1/2 cups Sargento® Fine Cut Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large Dutch oven.
Slowly whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium-low, whisking occasionally. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the grits begin to thicken. Add 1 cup of each cheese, half-and-half, hot sauce, salt, pepper, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs and add them to the grits. Pour the grits into a 2-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Cover the grits with remaining cheese and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until melted and bubbly.
**This post is a part of my ongoing collaboration with Sargento Cheese. All opinions are 100% my own.**
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