|Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography , 2013|
Pleased to honor my Southern roots, I can’t ignore a staple on every kitchen table at mealtime: grits. Grits are popular for breakfast in the South, to be sure, but they are also a frequent dinner accompaniment. Of course, everyone knows something about the shrimp and grits dishes that are so popular in the Deep South, and that’s where I have found my inspiration for today’s recipe.
Taking a trip down memory lane again, I remember both my grandmother and mother making breakfast grits. Maybe it was because they knew of my tendency to have a well-honed sweet tooth or maybe it was because they thought that breakfast grits, like oatmeal or cream of wheat, should be sweet if served independently of eggs or meat. No matter their choices for making it, sweet grits are one of my favorite treats, even today. I’m sure they added lots of butter and sugar at the end of the cooking process, then some whole milk to make the grits incredibly creamy. Today, when I make them, I add honey, butter, and half and half just before I take the grits from the stove. They make a delicious breakfast and are a pleasant alternative to oatmeal on a cold winter morning.
Over and over, I’ve read that our sense of smell is high on the list of memory triggers, and we can all relate to that, I’m certain. When I smell a pot of creamy grits just before they are ready to serve, my mind is immediately taken back to the kitchens of my childhood, and what better place to be than there.
The following recipe is my version of cheesy dinner grits, and I am showcasing them with broiled salmon. That being said, I often serve them with oven-roasted shrimp or grilled chorizo sausage links. The accompaniment is up to you.
Broiled Salmon and Spicy Cheese Grits
For the salmon-
1 large filet of salmon (preferably wild caught)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. whole grain Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. grated horseradish
1 tbs. fresh dill
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For the grits-
4 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups grits
¾ cup heavy cream
1- 16 oz. block of Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
Optional: Paprika and jalapeno and lemon slices, as garnish
To prepare the salmon, preheat oven broiler to medium-high and adjust oven rack to middle position. Pat salmon dry with paper towel. In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper to make a marinade. Place salmon on foil covered baking sheet, skin-side down, and drench with olive oil marinade. Place under broiler and cook until just done, about 7-10 minutes. Salmon should no longer be translucent. Watch salmon carefully and don’t overcook! Cover with foil and set aside while preparing grits.
In large saucepan, bring broth, salt, white and black pepper, and garlic to a boil. Add grits into boiling mixture and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and allow to cook for 7-10 minutes or until grits are no longer hard. (Note: Grits should still have a, well, gritty texture, but they should not be abrasive to chew. Choose the “Quick-5 minute”) Quaker grits if you are not familiar with cooking them.)
Immediately add heavy cream and continue heating on low for 1 minute. Add shredded cheese and stir until cheese is completely blended and the grits are smooth again. Add chilies just before removing from heat, and stir to incorporate.
Place a large ladle of grits in the center of a plate. Sprinkle with paprika. Top with a piece of salmon, garnished with lemon and jalapeno slices if desired.