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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

If this is Wednesday...

...then it must be time for me to start planning weekend meals So, here's a big part of a Saturday meal. heck, with just two of us, now, it'll last through Sunday (and with WonderWoman going off to a conference Sunday afternoon, it looks like I'll even have some on Monday). So, I'd better have something good. And easy, naturally. Sooo...
Chilis n Cheese Grits Note: getting my family to eat something called "grits" is a challenge. I still can't get 'em to eat plain ole grits as a breakfast dish. Not even with crumbled bacon and lotsa butter. Go figure. Must be the Nordic genes craving *lutefisk* instead... *yech!* This is my modification (naturally) of my mom's recipe. Since she's now in her 80s and has been making this for at least 40 years or so, even though I've enjoyed it like this, I called to check a couple of things before I wrote this one down. Check's OK with the REAL cook in the family (with one warning below), so it's a go. The only amounts below that are pretty well set in stone are the liquid measures and the grits. Everything else, the garlic, onion, bacon and green chiles, can all be vaied in lotsa ways for differing tastes and still end up with delicious Chile Cheese Grits. 8 slices of cooked bacon, fat trimmed, crumbled (or 1/2 C or more packaged bacon bits) 1 C milk (low fat or skim's ok--see "cheese" below :-) 2 C water 1 C quick grits--really, don't take the time with the regular grits. (Less time=lower chance of grits sticking to the pan. :-) 1 C grated Cheddar/Jack cheese mixed. Any cheese that melts well, apart from mozarella, will do. 1/4 C (or maybe a lil more) sour cream 2 Tbs butter/margarine/olive oil--whatever (actually, I prefer bacon grease) 1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 yellow onion, chopped 1 can chopped green chiles 2 eggs (beaten) Oven at 350° F; greased baking dish; coupla pans for prep (sauce pan, frying pan). Combine the milk and water in a saucepan and bring to just under a boil, then add the quick grits. Reduce the heat and let 'em cook for about 5 minutes. Stir every now and then. While the grits are cooking, between stirs chop/mince the onion garlic and get them ready for the dish. If you fried the bacon up instead of using packaged bacon bits, sauté the onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat until just clear. Otherwise, use the butter/margarine/olive oil to sauté the onion/garlic. OK, now the grits and everything else is ready, dump the onion, garlic, bacon bits, green chiles, (beaten) eggs and cheese together in the grits saucepan and stir well, then dump the mixture in the baking dish. Give it about 30-40 minutes at 350°. My mom says, "Watch it to make sure it doesn't get too browned." Remove, let it sit a bit and then serve. It's great with pinto or red beans, ham, or even as a breakfast side with eggs and salsa. NOTE: for a "creamier" grits base, add more milk... I've been successful with UP TO one additional cup, but it does tend to be a LOT looser the more milk you add, so be careful. Adjust after a few tries to get the end consistency you want. Note #2: I've wanted to try this with chorizo instead of bacon, but I never seem to have chorizo and grits handy at the same time, and chorizo hasn't been all that easy to come by in America's Third World County™ until quite recently, anyway... If you try it with a sub for the bacon,let me know how it goes for you, eh? Mincing garlic: a mini-tutorial Clove of garlic on cutting board. Lightly crush the clove flat with the side of your chef's knife. Remove skin. Do NOT clip off the root end! Use the root end as a handle and quickly slice lengthwise from shoot end toward stem. Hey! Keep your fingers outa the way! Now, chop across the garlic. Now whale away at it. Voilà! Neat lil minced pieces. Want a bolder garlic flavor in the dish? Use a garlic press. It'll release more of the oils and "mince" the garlic even finer. UPDATE: DO NOTE that I never make this dish exactly as noted above. Tonight was no exception. Happily, it turned out better than usual. Here's the variation for tonight. I was running a lil late, so I "compacted" some of the steps. I "microwave-sautéed" the onion/garlic. Saved some prep and cleanup time. I also tried something I'd been thinking of (not the chorizo—that'll have to be another time) for a while. I added the "microwave-sautéed" onion/garlic and the green chiles (about 8oz this time) to the water/milk mixture as it was heating knowing full well that it would "clabber" the milk. Nice lil quasi-cheese addition to the dish. It really added something nice, I think. Mixed EVERYTHING except the eggs and let it sit in the saucepan for a bit while I whisked the eggs. Eggs in, mixed quickly and immediately into the oiled casserole dish, then oven. Saved using a pan for sauté-ing, cut a few minutes prep and had a slightly different taste/texture. Still recognizable as same dish, just a lil different, easier cleanup (by a tad) and a lil faster. Let me know what changes you make that are successful, would you? [UPDATE] The tag end of leftovers from this went in a pot of bean/beef soup/stew as thickener. Worked well.