I’m a northern girl…even though my husband and I have been moving around the midwest the last 15 years, I’ve always had my heart set on living in the South. Well we finally made it! About 6 months ago we settled in Atlanta. It’s been an extraordinary experience – let me tell you something; Southern Hospitality is not just a rumor. Along with the great weather, the people here are wonderful.
We’ve been busy sampling all the new restaurants and have had some really great food. At South City Kitchen I had my first taste of grits! My new mission was to try my hand at some authentic southern recipes. I turn to the bible of all things south….Southern Living Magazine. Grits were the first on my list. At the risk of sounding like a damn yankee* I didn’t even know where to look for them at the grocery store. I wandered around the rice isle….nothing. Found the pasta isle….still nothing. Finally I asked…Seriously? Cereal Isle?
Now I had to decipher the difference between all the different grits. White Grits, Yellow Grits, Instant Grits, Stoneground Grits. Yikes. My rule of thumb in cases like this – Instant is never good and color is always better than white and if you can find something that says “old fashioned”…I’m in!
Whenever I try out a new food, my husband is always a very willing guinea pig. Grits didn’t quiet raise the anticipation that I was accustomed to, but one bite into this recipe and he was all for it. The recipe comes from “Southern Living Magazine”. The taste was so decadent, we were both a little surprised. To be fair, the grits are cooked in cream and aged gouda cheese and ham were added to it – I do believe if you add those things to gravel it would taste good.
So here’s my first experiment with “southern cooking”. I think the recipe is fairly forgiving as far as measurements go….I’ll let you decide. This recipe also calls for a poached egg on top, but I elected to leave the egg off – I’ll let you decide that too. Let me know how you like it!
*damn yankee. There’s a difference between a yankee and a damn yankee. When the nice southern gentle man smile and explained the difference, he was sure to say present company excepted. A Yankee is someone from the north who visits the south….A damn yankee stays.
Ham & Gouda Grit Cakes
1/2 cup diced ham (I used some leftover honeybaked ham)
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup grits (the recipe called for quick cooking, but I used “old fashioned”)
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Grouda cheese (divided)
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (28 oz) can italian style peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
Prepare Ham and Grits: Sauté diced ham in a small skillet over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
Bring cream, next 2 ingredients, and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Gradually whisk in grits; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in garlic, ham, and 1 cup Gouda cheese; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Spread in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan; cover and chill 4 hours or until set.
Prepare Tomato Gravy: Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and crushing tomatoes with spoon. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in basil and next 3 ingredients.
Prepare Poached Eggs: Add water to depth of 3 inches in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and maintain at a light simmer. Add vinegar. Break eggs, and slip into water, 1 at a time, as close as possible to surface. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. Remove with a slotted spoon. Trim edges, if desired.
Assemble: Preheat oven to 375°. Invert chilled grits onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 (3-inch) squares; place in a single layer, overlapping slightly, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon gravy over grits. Bake 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with remaining 1/2 cup Gouda and poached eggs.