How do I delicately say this–without offending Dad? It’s quite awkward, because the guy is a great cook. However, everyone has an Achilles’ heel. Well… his grits might be one of the few dishes with few good memories. Who knows what went wrong. They weren’t creamy. The texture was mostly watery. I only liked them with tons of cheese to hide the taste.
Imagine my surprise, when grits became a trendy ingredient along with the raise of southern cuisine a few years ago. I initially avoided grits on menus, and wondered why any chef would serve them. Over time, I decided to give grits another try to discover a soft, creamy taste. Humbled and in love with my first true taste of properly cooked grits, I wanted to learn the proper technique to cooking them.
The ‘how-to’ cook grits came from Chef Edna Lewis and her assistant, Scott Peacock. It’s 2 cups of water or chicken stock plus 2 cups of whole milk to 1 cup of grits. After the grits are tender and creamy, swirl in a dash of organic cream. The cheese is optional. However, did I mention the most common mistake to making grits? Using instant or quick cooking grits. Don’t buy them. Walk pass them. Avoid looking at them. Just don’t do it.
Stone-ground grits are usually well hidden in most grocery stores. Either look hard or ask for help.* Once home, slowly cook them, because they become softer over time. If there’s no time, plan ahead to cook them in slow cooker (the ‘how-to’ is here).
About the popular shrimp and grits served in most Southern restaurants… as mentioned before, it was love at first bite. Even people who don’t like to cook, learn the recipe to make it at home. Besides pancakes, it’s become one of my favorite weekend breakfast meals.
This version of creamy, cheesy grits is sans sauté shrimp. The inspiration is from The View from Great Island. The writer, Sue, creates a savory brussel sprout and mushroom dish with polenta. In this version, American-made yellow grits replaces the Italian polenta.** I also roasted brussel sprouts, but this recipe has a touch of diced fennel and onions. The end result is a delicious dish, and when chop sausage is pile on top—it’s ‘meat on your bones’ good.
Lewis mentioned people “…should really leave grits alone…” I’m sure Dad agrees. After all, he believes cornbread isn’t supposed to have sugar in it, too. However, I’m a few generations away from the South. As a newly minted, fancy Yankee, my bowl of grits need milk, cream, salt and pepper and always cheese. It’s how I’m creating my own good memories.
*Don’t look too far for stone-ground grits, because Trader Joe sells them in the cereal asile.
**To learn more about the difference between yellow, white, instant, and stone-ground grits, click here.
Creamy Cheesy Yellow Grits with Roast Brussel Sprouts and Sausage
Inspired by The View from Great Island
- Olive oil or butter; as needed
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper; as needed
- Crushed red pepper; optional and as needed
- 1 lb. fresh brussel sprouts; quartered
- 1 cup diced fennel
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- Sausage (turkey, chicken or pork); vertically cut in half
- 1 recipe for Creamy Cheesy Yellow Grits (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Lightly toss olive oil, salt, pepper, brussel sprouts, fennel and onions over the baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft and slightly caramelize brown. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place sausage cut side down in the skillet. When the bottom is brown, flip sausage over. When the sausage starts curling, remove from the skillet. Place on a paper towel lined plate. Horizontally slice sausages. Set aside.
- Spoon Creamy Cheesy Grits (see recipe below) into individual bowls. Top with roast vegetables and sausage.
- Sprinkle more black pepper and salt (watch the salt content, because the sausages could be salty).
Creamy Cheesy Yellow Grits
Recipe inspired by Edna Lewis.
- 2-cups water
- 2-cups whole milk
- 1-cup stone-ground yellow or white grits
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper; as needed
- Crushed red pepper; as needed
- (Optional) A pinch of smoked paprika
- ½ cup sharp, white cheddar cheese
- 1/8-cup fresh, organic cream; more or less
- Optional: butter or olive oil
- Bring water and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Do not boil.
- Place grits in a bowl. Fill with water. Gently swirl the water. After the water settles, skim the surface of the chaff (the tiny, lightweight pieces floating to the surface). Strain the grits in a fine mesh sieve.
- Gently add the grits to the simmering water and milk mixture. Stir in salt, peppers and smoked paprika.
- Frequently stir the grits, making sure to scrape the bottom. Depending on the brand, stone-ground grits are ready after 20 minutes, but they become softer when cooked up to 1 hour. Add a little more water and/or milk, if grits become a little to dry.
- When the grits are tender to bite, stir in the cheese and cream.
- Stir butter or olive oil.
7 thoughts on “Creamy Cheesy Yellow Grits with Roast Brussel Sprouts and Sausage”
If only the family would open their minds to brussels sprouts. This would be a winner.
Jocelyn, I’m not surprised about you being a pancake fan, because your cakes look so beautiful and delicious!
Hi, Carrie! Definitely use polenta in place of yellow grits for this recipe. After all, the original recipe that inspired me to make this version uses polenta.
Wow, this just looks absolutely delectable. I am a huge grits fan but I have never even considered adding in the brussel sprouts with the sausage. Genius! P.S. I am a huge fan of pancakes too!
That looks divine. Thank you for the post. I am wondering if I can sub polenta since that is easily found in California.
I think you have just got me out of my rut! Now on a frantic craze to find grits in Dubai! It’s so perfect for this time of year!
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