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.
First thing I thought when I saw the pictures was Polenta!! I’m Italian, and it is exactly the same. And it pisses me off that when it’s labeled polenta they charge more for it, and most people don’t realize they don’t need to pay more. Here is my standard polenta sauce recipe http://imaginarycompass.blogspot.com/2009/09/italian-polenta.html , but your mushroom one looks amazing and I’m definitely going to try it. I love mushrooms and cheese, so I don’t think it could possibly go wrong.
My dear, you made me choke on my beer with “primeval lizard-brain” and the laughter didn’t stop there. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazed already so it’s not like this is a *new* thing.
Doesn’t help that I’ve been craving cheese grits & shrooms since I saw them on a menu & did not order immediately (will not be making THAT mistake again). Anyway – yum.
Also – 1) I want free toblerone
2) In the same vein as your bodega grief/free toblerone, the only reason I was placated without the aforementioned unordered dish is because we had a most decadent phyllo wrapped brownie topped with ice cream & homemade toffee, and then I got the chef to sell me some of the toffee for cheap cheap (‘cuz no one had ever asked and they were completely unprepared for the question).
Pardon my ignorance on this subject (I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, where they only use corn meal to make scrapple…I try not to think about it). Anyway, I always thought that the difference between grits and polenta was that grits were made from ground hominy (corn treated with lye) and polenta was from corn meal that was not treated. Have I been misinformed about this?
Weird, I made cheese grits yesterday. But I used white “quick cook” grits because Bob’s Red Mill polenta is really a different texture. Then I topped with New Orleans style shrimp. F yeah
It’s happening again…
Good day for a picnic.
The owls are not what they seem.
Mares eat oats and does eat oats, but this southern boy eats grits…
ha, i didn’t even know that it was anti-foodie to thicken things with added thickeners. thomas keller can go suck an egg. this recipe looks delicious, and i want to go to your bodgea and bring like 100 reusable bags with me.
That looks delicious! I think the word “chicken” appears a few too many times in this post to qualify for “veg/vegan,” though.
Alas, I’m from the south. My children eat grits – just grits – for breakfast in the a.m. I’m not cooking anything that requires more effort than that at 6 am.
They would actually probably prefer this tasty looking little number.
Maybe for dinner.
lucrezia, right? irritating. and now, off to check out your recipe!
graciecat, make them tonight, and feel badly no more! what could be easier than cheese grits?
tina, hopefully someone who knows more than me will show up to answer, because i have no idea.
erika, i fucking LOVE shrimp and grits. LOVE. maybe THAT’S what should go on top of my grit cakes…
foodgarden, double points for you!
kate, i think the free toblerone tops out at 2 per person.
bekah, a fine point – recipe updated.
karen, as long as lots of butter is involved, i approve of grits for breakfast.
You are simply toooo funny!! Grits ‘n shrooms on the menu for tomorrow night. Thank you!
Belatedly (because it’s been a helluva week and I’m behind on blog-reading) there’s grits and there’s hominy grits. One has the kernel skin ground in, one does not. Damned if I can tell any difference.
And Gracie, try the shrimp and grits at Maddie’s Place down off Riverfront near Loca Luna. I had ’em Wednesday. To die for.
Hominy is corn that has been treated with alkali, and hominy grits are made from the meal of that corn. That’s why hominy grits are white. Otherwise boiled coarsely ground corn meal is the same whether you call it polenta, mush, or grits. In my family hominy is what we call grits, and anything else is cornmeal mush.
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