Creamy, cheesy piping-hot grits topped with spicy sausage – I don’t think it gets much better than that on a cold day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner – this dish is perfect anytime! Aside from lots of delicious cheese, these grits get their extra creaminess by cooking them in milk. Yep. No water here!
Grits are often synonymous with the South and are considered not only a Southern staple, but a tradition. There are many accounts as to how this Southern delicacy came to be, but most will agree that this corn-based dish comes from Native American origins via Charleston, S.C.
Available in many varieties, from white to yellow, quick cooking to coarse stone ground, to heirloom and artisan – there is something for everyone’s taste buds. So what’s the difference? According to food historians and artisan corn producers, white cornmeal flavor traits are mineral, floral, and dairy up front supported by lovely sweet and cream corn aromas and flavors. Yellow corn says “corn” robustly up front: roasted corn, sweet corn, cream corn, and parch corn, a mélange of corn flavors and aromas with distinct mineral and citrus aromas.
No matter which variety, yellow or white, the beauty of grits is their versatility and ability to take on most flavors paired with them, although they are always best when cooked with milk instead of water. The flavor and consistency difference is truly amazing. Grits can also be molded or cut out to create any shape desired. They work well as small circles for bite-size appetizers.
Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are predominantly in the South, stretching from Texas to Virginia, which is also known as the “grits belt.” The state of Georgia declared grits its official prepared food in 2002. Similar bills have been introduced in South Carolina. Essentially unchanged today, corn grits represent the strength and appeal of the South’s most defining traditional food.
Spicy Sausage Grits ‘N’ Cheese Recipe
Source: The Dairygood Cookbook
- 1 (7-ounce) package chorizo
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup yellow grits
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions
Cook the chorizo in a medium skillet over medium heat until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to drain; set aside.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir so it doesn’t scorch. Whisk in grits, salt and pepper into the milk and cook, stirring rapidly, for 4 minutes or until the grits thicken. Stir in cooked chorizo and cheeses until they are completely melted.
Divide the grits among four serving bowls and sprinkle each with green onions and additional cheese. Serve immediately.
Rebecca Egsieker is a trained chef and communications professional in the dairy industry. She has worked in recipe and development for gourmet food companies as well as specialty grocery chains. After leaving the Ritz-Carlton, she started her own private chef business in California where she worked with clients that had special dietary needs. Today she is a communications professional for the Southeast Dairy Association.