The best cheese for making baked grits comes from – dare I say it? – the North! That’s right. Use the sharpest Yankee cheddar cheese you can find. You may want to hide it in your shopping basket. (Hence, why they came to be called “guilty pleasure” cheese grits in Collier County, Florida.)
Now, if you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you may think it’s okay to use “instant grits.” Please be aware that Hominy grits are preferred, “Quick grits” are tolerated, but “Instant grits” are considered beneath one’s dignity.
While some recipes for Cheese Grits call for an egg or chicken broth, note that this was not the case, traditionally in Collier County. For the truly adventurous, serve “Grits and Grunts” (see below).
Ingredients for Collier County Cheese Grits:
- 2 cups Hominy Grits
- Three-quarter lb. sharp cheddar cheese
- One-half lb. Gouda or Edam cheese
- Water (typically 4 parts water to 1 part grits, but check packaging)
- 1 tsp Salt
- Shred one-half LB of cheddar and all of the Gouda (or Edam) cheese. Set aside.
- Using a cheese knife, flake one-quarter LB cheddar. Set aside for topping.
- Using butter, grease a large casserole dish that is broiler-proof. A shallow dish is ideal.
- In a large pot, add water and bring to boil.
- Add grits to boiling water. Stir continuously with long-handled whisk or spoon until full cooked.
- Add shredded cheddar. Blend.
- Add shredded Gouda or Edam. Blend.
- Add salt. Blend.
- Pour into prepared pan. Smooth.
- Sprinkle the “flaked” cheddar cheese on top.
- Place in broiler or hot over for ten minutes or until cheddar cheese topping is browned.
- Serve as a side dish to ham, bacon and eggs, shrimp, or “grunts.” Can also be cut into thin strips and deep-fried. Or let cool and serve with molasses.
- Definition: Grunts are small baitfish. Roll lightly in flour and fry. For Collier County Grits and Grunts, add a splash of Kentucky bourbon to the batter. Eat whole (a la sardines) and serve with grits!