I love grits. There's nothing more comforting than this sort of savory porridge. I love the texture, I love the flavor, and -- I'll admit it -- I love that it's something so typically American that I can still easily make and enjoy while living in France. Add some gooey cheese, and it's pretty much perfect. And yet cheesy grits are almost always served with some sort of meat, be it shrimp or bacon. Why can't vegetarians enjoy cheesy grits too?
This is the perfect way to eat cheesy grits for dinner while still including some vital nutrients from the mushrooms and a sizable amount of protein thanks to the egg. Best of all, the longest part of this recipe is cooking the grits themselves. It's fairly hands-off, save the poached egg, and it's on the table in about 30 minutes flat. What more could you ask for in a weeknight dinner recipe?
I'll tell you: flavor. Using a good quality aged organic cheddar is the key to making sure this recipe is bursting with it. Free-range eggs add just the right amount of rich egg yolk flavor -- if you cook the eggs just right, the yolk will blend into the grits for a perfect, heavenly bite.
Cheesy Grits Recipe with Sautéed Mushrooms and a Poached Egg
1/2 cup corn grits
1 cup water (depending on grits type -- check package for more information)
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. butter
1 shallot, minced
1 pound Crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
Heat the grits and water together in a pot over medium-low heat. Add a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits are thick and the water has cooked off. Time will vary depending on the brand of grits you buy -- check package for more information.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides. Be sure to cook mushrooms the way you would a meat or soy protein -- let the mushrooms get into contact with the pan and don't move them until they've browned. Then stir once to redistribute and repeat. When the mushrooms are browned, push them to the sides of the pan and add the shallot in the center. Cook until lightly translucent, about 2-3 minutes, then stir into the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the vinegar. Crack the eggs into a ramekin one-by-one and add them to the water. Poach about 3 minutes.
Stir the cheese and butter into the grits and place them in shallow plates. Add the mushrooms on one side. Remove the poached eggs and dry them lightly with a paper towel, then place them on top of the grits. Serve.
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Images: Emily Monaco