I saw this recipe in this month's issue of Bon Appetit and was immediately intrigued - no bread in dressing? However, grits are one of my favorite things - I simply love them. Yes, I know I was born (and live) a little farther north than the normal grit suspects. :) If you want a traditional, stuff-in-the bird dressing than this probably isn't for you. If you want something new or want a unique and delicious side dish (maybe instead of corn?) than I definitely recommend it.
As for me, I'm sitting in the kitchen hoarding the dish and wishing I hadn't made only half of the recipe. Do I really have to share? The thing about this rich and creamy side is that I would actually make it for brunch or for a holiday side. While my waistline may not approve of frequent feasting on this dish, it is a wonderful treat. Mmmm, I love the holidays.
(adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, November 2011)
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Unsalted butter (for dish)
1 c. coarse stone-ground grits (I used Bob's Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits)
1 c. (about 10 ounces) chopped bacon
6 large eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 c. coarsely grated cheddar (about 8 ounces), divided
2 Tb. chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika (I only had smoky and since there was bacon in it, I went with it)
freshly ground pepper
Butter a 2-qt. baking dish. Bring 4 cups water (or chicken stock would be really great) to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low; gently simmer, stirring often, until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls it too thick, until tender and very thick* (about 5 cups), about 1 hour. (The amount of water and cooking time will vary depending on the type of grits used - mine took 1/2 hour or a little less.) Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5–7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk eggs and cream in a medium bowl; whisk into grits in 3 additions. Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese, chives, paprika, and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer grits mixture to prepared dish and smooth top with a spoon. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over.
Transfer baking dish to oven and bake until puffed, golden, and just set in the middle, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*When they say VERY THICK, they really mean it. Mine were not thick enough - I did not need to smooth the top with a spoon (it was thin enough to settle out on it's own). :) They still worked out great!