I’ts not officially Friday, but I don’t care. I’m celebrating anyway, so Happy Fromage Friday everyone! My official cheese posts have been on hiatus for way too long. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been getting my girlish figure back by decreasing my cheese intake, but I think we all know that’s a lie. The truth is I’ve just been VERY distracted by the hell that is my condo hunt. I’d talk more about it but the truth is I still sometimes have the brain of a 13-year-old and I worry that if I tell you that the place will definitely fall through. Yes, I am silly and I still believe that I can accidentally jinx things and sometimes, depending on the day, I believe in fate too. I’m ashamed to admit to my apparent lack in maturity, but it’s true.
Anyway, this week it’s an extra special Fromage Friday because it’s my last week at my job! Which also means it’s the start of a two week break before I began my new one. I’m elated! I can honestly say I haven’t had this many consecutive days off since I graduated college all the way back in December of 2004.
So to celebrate, I give you some awesome cheese grits topped with sausage, peppers and tomatoes. Why grits? I have no idea, except I was craving them! I’d like to say grits hold some special kind of nostalgia for me, but honestly I didn’t even like them until last year. Growing up I only ever saw them on our occasional family trips to South Carolina and I can’t say I ever ventured to have a spoonful. At the time, they always seemed like a creepy oatmeal substitute that I never understood.
Probably better because I think, given my cheese obsession, I’d probably be a good 30 pounds heavier if I’d been indulging in cheese grits all my life. These grits are a spin on a recipe from The Neelys on Food Network. The biggest change? Instead of the Parmesan they call for I use Ascutney Mountain, a nutty alpine-style cheese from Cobb Hill in Vermont.
I like this cheese because the flavor is assertive enough that you taste it, even with all the other flavors layered on top, and yet, it doesn’t overpower them either. If you can’t find it, don’t worry, it’s similar in flavor to Appenzeller, Emmenthaler, and Gruyère, so any of these three will be good choices. My only recommendation is to get the best quality you can afford since the grits have very few ingredients so the quality of the cheese really shines through.
I will also note that yes, I use quick-cooking grits. I’ve been told this is blasphemy in the South, but since I’m a lifelong Yankee and I’m using Vermont cheese, I’m deeming it okay. Plus these grits taste absolutely delectable and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
Yields 4 servings
-4 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
-1/2 cup half and half
-1 cup quick cooking grits
-Salt and freshly black ground pepper
-2 tablespoons butter, divided
-1/2 pound Ascutney Mountain cheese, rind removed and shredded
-2 large shallots, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 cup chopped roasted bell peppers
-1 pound smoked kielbasa sausage, sliced
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
-Chopped green onions, for garnish.
In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock, and half and half up to a low simmer. While simmering whisk in the grits and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly and return to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in one tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-heat. Melt remaining butter and add the shallot and garlic. Saute until tender and translucent, and add the roasted bell peppers and sausage. When the sausage has cooked, add white wine and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over the Parmesan cheese grits. Garnish with chopped green onions.