I find myself making more and more dishes from Chef Vivian Howard’s book, Deep Run Roots. Her southern-inspired recipes are packed with flavor and tradition. I made a big batch of Chef Howard’s pimento cheese, which by itself is insanely good. Half went for sandwiches while the other half ended up in these delicious pimento cheese grits. Creamy and yummy. I love grits. Adding pimento cheese to them makes me love them even more. I didn’t think that was possible.
I use corn grits polenta from Bob’s Mill. They cook up in about 30 minutes and always have the perfect texture and flavor, great for pimento cheese grits. You can substitute quick-cooking grits in a pinch. They only take about 5 minutes.
Pimento cheese is one of those things that does not last very long in our house. Make batch, do a quick errand, come back.. gone! It doesn’t seem to matter how much I make, it’s gone in an instant. Where does it go? Well, one place is in this delicious easy grits dish. Creamy, yummy grits with kicked up pimento cheese. You can’t beat it. Sure, pimento cheese is great on crackers or sandwiches, but in grits… oh me is it ever amazing. Always make extra.
As much as grits are a wonderful thing, the star of this show is the pimento cheese and it deserves the love and the attention it needs to be extraordinary. First, hand shred your cheese. None of that pre-shredded bagged stuff. It has cornstarch or other coatings on it to keep it from sticking. Nope, pass on that. If you’re not a big fan of shredding with your old hand-powered box shredder, get one of these. It’s awesome!
Second, make the pimento cheese the night before you make this dish. Let it get happy in the fridge, just hanging out. It’s better that way. The flavors and the consistency are better the next day.
As much as I love making and devouring mashed potatoes with pot roast and gravy, I love grits even more. The creamy ground corn has more texture and more flavor. At least, in my opinion. Add some cheese (and a little bit of Ranch dressing mix) and well, these cheddar Ranch grits are the perfect tasting side dish and very, very easy to make.
You can substitute any good melting cheese you want to these cheddar Ranch grits. I like a nice sharp cheddar because I think it goes perfectly with the corn flavors and the Ranch dressing. I think Monterey jack would also work well in this dish. For some kick, go with pepperjack and add a few chopped roasted jalapenos. Or chile peppers. You can also add drained copped pimentos.
I highly recommend that you shred or grate your own cheese at home. Don’t buy the pre-shredded or pre-grated stuff. It has stuff added to it to keep it from sticking together. That ‘stuff’ affects how the cheese melts. Shred it yourself and use the good stuff.
Also try my roasted sweet corn grits. I always keep grits on hand. They’re the perfect side dish for just about any meal.
Elliott Moss’ Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke is one of my favorite cookbooks. It actually contains more than just recipes, much more, but the recipes are usually very easy to make and yet still fantastic. Smoked grits are about as simple as you can get, but what you do end up with are grits (and I do so love grits) with just a nice hint of smoke. Not crazy overpowering smoke, you want just a hint of it.
One thing I don’t go cheap on is grits. There are a number of small grist mills in Indiana (and in fact my father-in-law once worked in the grist mill at Spring Mill State Park which still operates today here in Indiana) where you can buy freshly ground grits, but you can also find quality grits in the grocery store. My motto is: don’t buy the cheap stuff. Grits are a magical thing and being cheap with them just isn’t necessary. To add even more great smoky flavor I use smoked grits to make my grilled corn grits.
I like smoking things that I haven’t smoked before, like these grits. I’ve also smoked peppercorns, which where a new thing for me too. They also came out great.
Smoked grits are about as simple as you can get, but what you do end up with are grits (and I do so love grits) with just a nice hint of smoke. Not crazy overpowering smoke, you want just a hint of it.
I don’t make grits often. Certainly not often enough. But the grits I made with some grilled cedar planked shrimp the other day really got me into grits-making mode. So much so that I was thinking about grits while I was shucking some fresh sweet corn. That’s when it hit me. I bet roasted sweet corn would be beyond awesome in grits. And you know, it is!
I threw a few shucks ears of corn onto the grill until they started to char. I cut off the kernels with a knife or use a corn peeler and added them to my go-to grits recipe. The corn kernels add a nice ‘pop’ texture to these roasted sweet corn grits. You don’t have to roast the corn, but the added smokiness is a nice change.
My wife and I both agreed that these cedar-planked shrimp and grits were truly something special. The shrimp had a nice little spiciness to them. The grits had a fantastic creamy cheesiness to them. And the sauce had that wonderful (but light) Worcestershire sauce-flavored creaminess. Any one of the star components would be absolutely fantastic on it’s own, but together, they made for the perfect dinner.
The shrimp do not take long to cook on the cedar plank, so keep an eye on them and don’t over cook them. If you don’t have a cedar plank you can cook the shrimp directly on the grill, or skewer them first.
I can’t recommend the grits and sauce enough, though I’d eat the shrimp off the grill by themselves any day of the week.
Don’t buy any el cheapo cedar planks for this or any other dish. Get the good stuff and you won’t ever look back. Cheap planks split, warm and have splinters. Good planks are thicker, stay flat and have smoother edges.
These cedar-planked shrimp and grits were truly something special. The shrimp had a nice little spiciness to them. The grits had a fantastic creamy cheesiness to them. And the sauce had that wonderful (but light) Worcestershire sauce-flavored creaminess.