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Baked Cheese Grits

If you don’t know what grits are, well then, you’re obviously not from the South, although I can find them here in the stores in Ohio, both regular and instant.  Normally cooked like cream of wheat or polenta, grits are very verstatile and can be served with butter, cream and sugar or with salt and pepper, or with ham and gravy – they can even be poured into a loaf pan, refrigerated until solid, then sliced and fried in butter or bacon fat (oh, the yumminess).

This, however, is my favorite preparation of grits.  A little time-consuming, for sure, but oh, my, are they good.  I prefer to use a good, sharp yellow cheddar, but you could use Parmesan (real Parmesan, not the stuff in the green can) with equally good results.

Baked Cheese Grits

5 cups water

1 cup grits (NOT instant)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, finely minced

2 cups grated or shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and butter a 2-quart casserole or soufflé dish.

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the salt and gradually stir in the grits.  Cover and cook, stirring occassionally, over low heat until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cooked the onion until almost translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes; add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Whisk together the eggs, milk and pepper.

When the grits are done, stir in the onion mixture and cheese, then gradually stir in the egg and milk mixture.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve immediately.

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