Grits: The breakfast, or lunch, or dinner of champions. Grits with goat cheese? THE DINNER OF KINGS.
I don’t know why I wanted grits tonight, but something primeval in the back of my lizard-brain was crying out to me all day long: GRIIIIITS. I don’t know how my primeval lizard-brain knows about grits, but it was pretty insistent about them. Who am I to thwart my own innermost longings?
Of course, you can’t just eat grits, they must be supplemented. Hence, goat cheese grits with herbed mushrooms. Because grits without cheese are, let’s face it, gruel.
Grits are easy so I started with the shrooms, because I wanted them to take on some nice color and have an opportunity to mingle before being drowned in sherry. A mushroom that has not been drowned in sherry is hardly worth eating, I say, and I think everyone around here knows my stance on fruits/vegetables and booze, which is: yes, please.
I hacked up about a pound of baby portobellos and tossed them in a hot pan with a little butter and olive oil. I added a pinch of salt, as well, even though I know you’re not supposed to salt your mushrooms until the end because it will draw out the liquid before they start to brown and BLAH BLAH BLAH. In my experience, it all comes out in the wash and you end up with brown mushrooms either way, so smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Just before the drowning, I tossed in some thyme and rosemary fresh from the garden, which made me feel like quite the Little Suzy Homemaker. Well, that and the fact that I was wearing pumps and pearls while I cooked.
The browned mushrooms got a liberal soaking of sherry, a smidgen of chicken stock and a nice hit of black pepper. I wanted to give the resulting sauce some body so I used – GASP – a thickener, in the form of arrowroot. I’ve even been known to use cornstarch to thicken things, and I will now go and tear up my special Foodie Club Membership Card having admitted that. Sometimes I do not want to wait to reduce my sauces.
Somewhere, Thomas Keller’s eye just twitched. But you know what? This shit still tastes good.
While my sauce pulled together, I heated some chicken stock for the grits.
I was reading the back of the grits sack for the grit-to-liquid ratio, and there were two different recipes on it; one for grits, and one for polenta. With the only difference being the quantity of grits/polenta produced – one recipe was exactly double the other, with the same ingredients and ratios.
At the bodega, there were grits and there was polenta and the polenta was a dollar-fifty more, yet here is Bob’s Red Mill telling me they are the same. I CRY FOUL, bodega.
To think I trusted you. It’s a good thing you give me free Toblerone for using my own shopping bag, or we would be TOTALLY OVER.
I squeezed a log of goat cheese into my thickened grits and whisked until smooth. Then, you know, I had to taste for seasoning. And I really wasn’t sure, so I had to taste it again. Then again. And maybe a fourth time, or a fifth; we’re all friends here, do I really have to count?
Okay FINE, twist my fucking arm, so I went a little overboard with the tasting. These grits are so very good, and I was so very hungry. I did manage to stop myself eventually and was forced to wait 25 torturous minutes until Brian got home to eat, which I did because Little Suzy Homemaker does not eat without her man.
Those 25 minutes sucked, I tell you what. Being polite can kiss my ass.
I spooned a generous helping of grits into a shallow bowl and topped them with several scoops of mushrooms, and dinner was ON.
For me, even though this seems side-dishy, it was satisfying, what with the heartiness of the mushrooms and the heaviness of the grits. The barnyardy flavor of the goat cheese was tamed by the subtle sweetness of the corn and enhanced by the earthy mushrooms, while the sherry gave everything a bit of zippedy hey-diddly that kept it from being weighed down. Next time, I might even hit the shrooms with a dash of sherry vinegar at the end to up the hey-diddly factor a bit more.
Next time, I’m also making more mushrooms, because there were no leftovers and that was Unfortunate with a capital “U.”
Luckily, there are leftover grits, which are chilling in the fridge awaiting that day in the very near future – possibly tomorrow – when they will be fried up into grit cakes and maybe, just maybe topped with a poached egg. Or later tonight. You never know.
Goat Cheese Grits with Herbed Mushrooms
Serves 2 as a main, with leftover grits
1 c. corn grits
3 c. chicken stock + 1/4 c. (or veg stock, or just water)
1/4 c. heavy cream
3 oz. goat cheese of your choosing
1 lb. mushrooms
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 c. sherry
1 tsp. arrowroot
2 tbsp. cold water
s & p
Make the mushrooms: chop them into thick slices. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet and add the shrooms. Add a pinch of salt now or wait until later; I’m not the boss of you.
Saute the mushrooms until they’re a deep brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the herbs.
Add the sherry and 1/4 cup of the stock. While that’s simmering, whisk the arrowroot and cold water together. Add the arrowroot slurry to the mushroom mixture and let simmer to thicken. Thin out with more chicken stock if need be.
Adjust the seasoning and keep warm while you tend to the grits.
Make the grits: Heat 3 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Slowly whisk in the grits. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the grits and thick and creamy, about 10 minutes (your grits may vary, read the package instructions). Add the heavy cream and goat cheese and whisk until smooth. Adjust the seasoning.
Heap the mushrooms on top of the grits and go to town.