On rare occasions, my wife Mary Jane allows me to cook inside the house. This morning was one of those occasions because I announced that I was preparing my takeoff of Vivian Howard’s Pimento Cheese Grits. It takes three different recipes from her book, Deep Run Roots, to cook my version, but it only takes 1 1/4 hours and you get to use power kitchen tools, which is always a lot of fun. First, we make the grits and I’m not talking about those insipid instant grits which have already had the flavor cooked out of them. Use whole stoneground grits via mail order or Trader Joe’s. Cook them in a double-boiler.
1 cup grits
3 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 twists of the peppercorn grinder
Place all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and stir them together. The bottom should be half-filled with water that keeps boiling during the cooking process. Cover and cook, stirring every five minutes with a whisk. Cooking will take 20 to 25 minutes until the grits are not soupy but firm. Meanwhile, make the topping.
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo (not Spanish, which is in a casing).
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (use the cheese grating attachment to your food processor)
1/3 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh or frozen red New Mexican chile (okay, substitute green)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
Hot sauce to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a small pan, fry the chorizo until it’s done, breaking it into small pieces with a spatula, about 6 minutes. Drain off any fat, then add it and the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Process for about 30 seconds until you have a slightly creamy cheese spread.
Transfer the grits into a greased medium baking dish and spread them out evenly. Using a soft spatula, spread the cheese mixture over the grits, then place the dish in the oven. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and allow the dish to sit for 5 minutes. Serve it topped with your favoring salsa.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Heat Scale: Medium