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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

True Grit(s)

I love Oscar Night, or any awards show night for that matter - especially when there's food and drinks (and catty red carpet fashion commentary) involved. And this year I attended a viewing party that involved a very Top Chef-esque challenge: to create and bring a dish inspired by an Oscar nominated movie.

I studied the list of nominees. I was too intimidated to try an Inception-inspired Dream Cake, or some kind of blackened poultry dish a la Black Swan. And kid-friendly fare, like PB&J or s'mores for Toy Story 3 was already taken. So I settled on grits, for True Grit, which I thought was brilliant idea - though a few people were confused and mistook it for something else (as if there is a movie named True Polenta).

Thanks to quick-cooking grits (which were the only kind available at the store that day) this recipe filled two very important criteria - it was easy and it was delicious. Crowd-pleasing ingredients like bacon, sausage and cheese helped, as did the creamy, comforting grits themselves. My overall review? These grits were a hit!

serves 6-8 as a starter

recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria/Paula Deen
prep time: 20 min / cook time: 20 min

3 c water
dash of salt
1 c quick-cook grits
1/4 c butter
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, chopped into small pieces
14 oz. smoked sausage, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 c thinly sliced green onions
*I omitted this, and it was still delicious!

salt & pepper to taste

• Boil water and dash of salt in a medium/large saucepan. With a whisk, slowly stir in grits. Cover and reduce to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese until combined. Keep covered until ready to serve.
• Fry bacon bits in a large skillet until brown and crisp. Drain. Add sausage to the skillet and fry in bacon grease, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, parsley and green onions and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place grits in a serving bowl. Pour sausage mixture over the grits. Garnish with bacon bits and season with salt/pepper.

The original recipe calls for shrimp, but I used sausage for a non-seafood eating friend. You can easily switch the sausage for 1 lb. of peeled, de-veined shrimp and add 4 tsp of fresh lemon juice to the garlic, parsley and green onion stage.
Finish with a dash of your favorite hot sauce, if desired.




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