Better Than Yo’ Mama’s (Roasted Tomato and Cheddar) Grits

July 20, 2011 § 3 Comments

I know, fightin’ words right there. But really, these are Paula-Dean-ain’t-got-nothin’-on-me kinda grits. Or, lemme-sit-down-before-I-take-a bite kinda grits. Or even, lemme-break-out-the-fat-or-(excuse me)-winter-jeans-because-Imma-bout-to-go-Rambo-on-this-casserole-dish kinda grits. I may have a slight obsession. I may also have Old Bay and grits pumping through my veins. You decide whether these are related.

In addition to my affinity for Southern regional foodways, I have a much healthier obsession with summer tomatoes. Right now my backyard is an all you can eat buffet. I once had a friend who told me he hated tomatoes. Thank god he promptly qualified his assertion with, “I realized the error of my ways and now eat them like apples,” because I was about to pull that obnoxious,

“…but, but they’resogoodhowcanyounotlikethemtheyrelikethebestvegetableever?!”

Word vomit. There’s nothing like a good, homegrown tomato. Ours are planted up against a brick wall. I don’t know what kind of magic this is, but it produces the best, sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. And we’re inundated. We’ve even got these little cuties that look like hot air balloons when you hold them upside down. Or is that just me?

Even so, I need a tomato change up–these raw tomatoes are getting old. Enter: Broiled, Roasted Tomato Cheese Grits. The trick to great grits is to slowly cooking them over a barely there flame. Cooking them this way–rather than boiling them at nuclear until it’s a thick goop–ensures that the grits are cooked tender and yet bursting with flavor.

I may have bought a case of Anson Mills grits this spring. And I may have spent hours on their website trying to decide between Antebellum coarse yellow and coarse white grits. (This was a BIG decisions, folks. Gosh.) Personally, I’m partial to the coarse grits. However, they require an overnight soak and seeing as I rarely have the foresight to preempt my Sunday evening hunger, I cooked with their quick grits instead.

“Wait, did she just say what I think she said?! Quick Grits?!”

Oh yes. Yes, she did. And unlike Cousin Vinny’s grits, these still take about 40 minutes to cook. These ain’t no magic grits. The coarse grits take an hour and a half, so I guess quick is really a relative term at Anson Mills.

The dish comes together quite nicely. After halving the tomatoes and tossing them in olive oil and salt, they roast unattended for about an hour. The grits require minimum supervision, leaving you to watch another gripping episode of Law and Order: SVU. Dun dun.

Oh, and don’t roast those hot air balloon cuties.

The fresh corn adds a nice texture to the grits–which can, admittedly, be otherwise monotonous–and the roasted tomatoes give a wonderful sweetness. Oh, and try to keep it a G-rated and not go crazy with the oohs and ahhs. Do it for the children.

Roasted Tomato and Cheddar Grits

(Inspired by TheKitchn)
1 pint cherry or plum tomatoes, halved.
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about two cobs)
1 cup grits
3 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tbs butter
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and salt (to taste). Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast until shriveled and browned.
2. In a pot, combine grits and milk. Give a stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once simmering, drop the heat to low and continue to cook (uncovered) stirring occasionally to make sure grits aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook for 40 minutes, or until tender and hold their shape to a spoon. You may need to taste frequently. What a shame.
3. When the grits are done add in butter, giving quick stirs until it is melted. Add in all cheese but 1/4 cup, stirring until melted and incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, leaving the pot covered. 
4. When the tomatoes are roasted, remove from oven and turn on broiler. Place grits in an 8 inch casserole dish and arrange roasted tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and place under broiler until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from oven, serve immediately.

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§ 3 Responses to Better Than Yo’ Mama’s (Roasted Tomato and Cheddar) Grits

  • jwolfe06 says:

    YOU MADE IT!! I’m hoping to give it a go sometime this week. I’m pumped. Also- I personally love people who don’t like tomatoes, then I get all theirs. That’s why I liked my old roommate so much.

    • Erin says:

      I did! But I nixed the goat cheese, didn’t want that French bullshit cheese contaminating my grits. (But I now not-so-secretly want to know what it would taste like, so you should definitely make them!)

  • Laurie says:

    Since you are SO into southern regional cooking… ’bout some Chicken Bog?? Call Stu for details.

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