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Cheddar Cheese grits with Italian sausage is a stick-to-your-ribs meal that’s not only delicious but quick and budget friendly as well.
I see a lot of tourists at my day job. Many of them making their very first trip to the South. They ask me where to find all of the typical southern foods while they are in Nashville. Foods like the best BBQ (Peg Leg Porker), the best biscuits and gravy (Loveless Cafe), the best fried chicken (Monell’s). But when it comes to grits, many tourists seem a little terrified of them.
What are Grits?
Grits are, basically, ground dried corn. That’s it. Just corn, ground down to a meal, but not quite cornmeal. You can read this article by Spruce Eats on the difference between Cornmeal, Grits and Polenta.
Grits have been a Southern staple for as long as the South has existed. It’s poor people food. You can feed an army on a handful of grits, then slice up the leftovers and feed it to them again the next day.
We, in the South, eat them for breakfast or dinner. We always stir in some butter and maybe a little cream. Sugar or cheese is also accepted additions.
What kind of grits to buy
When you head off to the store to buy grits you will be confronted with 3 different kinds of grits: Stone-ground, Quick and Instant.
Much like oatmeal or rice, you want to stay away from the Quick and Instant varieties. If you absolutely must, opt for the “Old-fashioned” or “Regular” grits, but stone ground grits are the best. If you can find a local farm that mills their own grits, that’s an even better option (my local farm is Beaverdam Creek Mill and they are wonderful!).
What to do with leftover grits
Every time I make grits there are leftovers. One cup of grits pretty much turns into 4-5 cups of cooked grits and that’s a lot for anyone to eat. So what do you do with them? You pour them into a greased loaf pan and pop them in the fridge to make fried grit cakes tomorrow.
I know I’ve talked a lot about grits and not a lot about the other ingredients in this meal, but I wanted to give any who aren’t familiar with grits as an ingredient a little more understanding about it.
This recipe is a savory way to have your grits for dinner. Any Italian sausage will do (even turkey or chicken sausage) and feel free to throw as many of those homegrown tomatoes you have lying around in the pan with them. No one ever complains about more sauce.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup stone ground grits not quick or instant
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
- 2 Tablespoons minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes about 1 1/2 lbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Basil optional
- In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add grits in a slow stream, whisking the whole time. Reduce heat, cover and simmer stirring frequently until the grits are very thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese, season to taste.
- Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil over MEDIUM LOW HEAT and add sausages. Turn occasionally and cook until nearly done, about 10 minutes. Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until sausage is done (Internal temperature of 165 degrees) and tomatoes are tender, about 5 -10 minutes.
- Serve grits topped with sausages and tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.
Originally published August 2009