After almost 10 years of living in the south (in North Carolina and Kentucky), I have decided to embrace it with open arms...or at least an open stomach. The south is very different from where I grew up in Southern California. Life is slower here, and southern hospitality is rounded out with a twang. I miss the winter sun of California, but what Kentucky lacks in winter sunlight, it makes up for in belly-warming comfort food.
When my husband and I went to Asheville, NC for a little getaway in October, we stopped at Tupelo Honey Cafe for dinner. My husband had shrimp and grits, but their grits weren't plain ol' grits--they were infused with tangy goat cheese. I swore I would try my hand at grits when I got home, but to my surprise, the grocery store only sells instant grits. I wanted real, slow-cooked grits, and I finally found some at a newly-opened market and butcher shop near my house, Marksbury Farm. (Look for more on Marksbury Farm here in February. I'm scheduled for a tour of this awesome new facility in a rather rural part of Kentucky.)
I paired the goat cheese grits with some pork chops from a local farm--St. Asaph Farm--and a salad, although in hindsight, this meal would go great with some vinegary southern greens. Like a true southerner, I even ate some of the leftovers with a smattering of pan gravy for breakfast this morning.
Goat Cheese Grits with Bacon
adapted from Food52
Makes enough for 4-6 generous side portions
2 pieces thickly sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup of uncooked grits (not instant)
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 cup of milk
4 cups water
2 ounces fresh goat cheese, or more to taste
2-4 Tbl freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Combine the grits, salt, milk and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, whisking occasionally, until they are creamy and tender and the consistency is to your liking. (I like mine on the thicker side.)
Whisk in the goat cheese, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Taste the grits and add more salt, goat cheese or Parmesan cheese, if necessary. Eat immediately, topped with crumbled bacon.
This can be served as a side or a main dish. To reheat the next day, heat in the microwave or on the stove, adding milk to thin if needed.