Grits n Greens

February 17, 2011 § 3 Comments

Greens are dirt cheap. Oh, is that $1 a pound? Don’t mind if I do! It’s as if I’m doing the produce section a favor by ridding them of such a scourge of a vegetable. Now, don’t go out and start buying them–lest you drive up the price. I’d like to keep them all to myself. Personally, I’m partial to collards and swiss chard, if for no other reason than habit.

Dad likes to douse them in a vinegar cruet that he’s kept going since I was a toddler (no lie, when we moved it came with us). Usually it’s simply red peppers and apple cider vinegar that have fermented together for years on end. I am not a fan. I prefer greens that are buttery smooth, slightly chewy, whose bitterness has been coaxed out, leaving the taste of collards unencumbered by tongue burning heat or acid-reflux inducing vinegar. We’ll call them naked greens.

The winter has been rough; a raw biting cold that has me running back to bed. It makes my soul claw for something comforting and filling–a reminder that there is still a warm, nourishing oasis in the midst of this terrible season.

Enter cheese grits. These are not your hotel buffet grits, the white goopy gruel that is as tasteless as it is unappetizing. Get yourself some Bob’s Red Mill grits. And let’s not even discuss instant grits. Only Yankees make those and they can’t even make ’em right anyway.

Grits n Greens are a call back to my roots. When I asked my grandmother what she ate as a child on her rural Arkansas farm in Okalona, she promptly answered, “Grits. Lots of grits. And collards.” Lucky for me, I didn’t have to ring the neck of a family chicken to make this meal either.

Grits n Greens


1 large country ham steak
1 large bunch of collars, stems removed and cut into 1/2″ ribbons
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbs vegetable oil
~1 Tbs red pepper (mine is a thai powder, you can used crushed or whatever is on hand)
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
~2.5 tbs butter
1/3 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
Grits: Preferably Bob’s Red Mill, made according to package, using half milk, half water.
3 Eggs, poached
Salt, to taste
1. Get the grits going, they’ll cook while you prepare the collards.
2. Heat oil in covered pan. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
3. Add collard ribbons to pan and sprinkle with red pepper. Saute until tender–try to cook them so that they have a little bit to go. I like to take them off heat and cover them while I finish preparing everything else. This seemingly makes them less tough and takes away the bitterness of the green.
4. Cut the ham steak up into portion size pieces, saute in a pan until lightly browned on each side.
5. When the grits have finished cooking, add in the butter and cheese. Don’t get shy. Stir until combined. Add salt to taste.
Pile everything onto a plate. It’s go time!

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