GINNA PARSONS: Cheese grits hit the spot on Christmas

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

On Friday, a Christmas box arrived from my oldest and dearest childhood friend in Dothan, Ala. Leigh always manages to send the most thoughtful and creative gifts.
Usually, I open her gifts on Christmas morning, along with the other goodies Santa delivers to our house. But when I opened the box the post office delivered, a present had come open in transit, much to my delight. Of course, I couldn’t put a half-wrapped gift under the tree, so I took one for the home team and went ahead and tore the rest of the colorful paper away.
What I found inside was as beautiful as any shiny new bicycle or diamond bracelet.
It was six pounds of organic stone-ground grits from the McEwen’s gristmill in Wilsonville, Ala. The McEwen family has been supplying organic grains to top chefs across the country for years. Along with the grits was a cookbook, “Glorious Grits,” presented by Southern Living.
After I did my little happy dance around the kitchen, I decided to add cheese grits to our Christmas morning menu. We actually used Kay Martin’s recipe for cheese grits on Thanksgiving morning and they were quite delicious – the star of the show, my husband said.
This recipe from the new cookbook is very similar to Kay’s, who was featured as a Cook of the Week three years ago. Hers calls for a bit more cheese and butter and has hot sauce and paprika, where this one has cayenne pepper and minced garlic. Both dishes deliver a kick, which I appreciate on a cold, holiday morning.
You’ll probably be seeing more recipes in this space in 2012 from the “Glorious Grits” cookbook. After all, six pounds of grits is a lot of ground corn. And by the way, two pounds of the grits are called blue grits. I absolutely can’t wait to try them.
Happy New Year!

Breakfast Cheese Grits Casserole
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup uncooked stone-ground grits
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Bring water, salt and garlic to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until thick, stirring often. Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese, butter, Worcestershire and cayenne.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gradually add beaten eggs to grits mixture; pour into an 11×7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until set.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.