When traveling through the American south, you will find grits on offer in almost every eatery, from fancy restaurant through to roadside diner, or at least it seems that way. Simple cheesy bacon grits are easy to make and full of flavor! Gluten free too!
For an Australian, and with name like grits, this is surely an ingredient to avoid at all costs! I mean what are grits and what is it with that name?
One of the great joys of traveling is to pose such questions and then uncover the answers. I am pleased to say the answer was fairly obvious and tasty, now having enjoyed grits in both Charleston and Savannah. And it is indeed a meal that features quite heavily in Low Country Cuisine.
Indeed, I was so happy eating them that I just had to highlight this simple cheesy bacon grits recipe.
It is so simple that it will only take a few minutes of your time to have an inexpensive, warming and filling breakfast ready for the family.
Read on to find out more.
Grits – A Scary Name but if You Love Polenta You Will Love Grits
To cut to the bottom line grits equals polenta, plain and simple. Indeed, I used Bob’s Red Mill White Corn Grits (we have no commercial relationship we just like their product) for my simple cheesy bacon grits and lo and behold, right there on Bob’s label it tells you “also known as polenta”.
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Grits and polenta (as they are called in Italy and most other places in the world) are just cornmeal, or ground maize. Grits are generally boiled, they are gluten-free and healthy for you. They are filling and inexpensive to buy.
If you like, they are the corn version of oatmeal (porridge) and congee (rice), both also extremely healthy and inexpensive.
If you are new to cooking with grits or polenta, you shouldn’t fear them. They are delicious and easy to deal with.
Grits are Almost a Religion in the American South
Now back to our American road trip. I don’t believe we entered any restaurant, café or any other eatery anywhere in the American South that did feature a grits recipe. It is a staple throughout the low country.
You will see grits available there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And there are some classics such as shrimp and grits that that should demand your full attention.
When shopping around for grits, you will find many different brands and varieties available for purchase. White corn, yellow corn, instant, quick cooking, stone ground and so on.
And make no mistake, southerners have strong opinions about grits and many of them believe you should only cook with “stone-ground grits”. Stone ground grits are not as fine as quicker cooking varieties and therefore require longer cooking. But many southerners think the extra effort pays off with a better texture on the finished product. Rumor has it that proper, southern restaurants only use “stone-ground grits”.
Well, with all due respect to my southern friends, I did use a quicker cooking variety and I was wrapped with the result.
So, to discover the wonderful world of grits (and polenta), here is a simple cheesy bacon grits recipe that delivers a great result.
Simple Cheesy Bacon Grits
When you cook with a new ingredient there is always a little consternation that we all experience. Will it turn out? Am I cooking it correctly? Did I buy the right variety for the recipe?
I certainly experienced all of that and more but, as is usually the case, it turned out perfectly. So, if you live outside the US or you live in the American north, try this recipe out. Simple cheesy bacon grits are a highlight and grits are not to be feared any more!
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- In a small pan over moderate heat, saute the bacon until browned, about 5 minutes. Reserve.
- Meanwhile in a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and then add the salt. Add the grits, and when boiling again turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the grated cheese and reserved bacon pieces. Continue to simmer stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted and the cheese and bacon are well incorporated into the grits. Serve immediately.