So, I’m back in California. Back to the real world, with alarm clocks that go off at 6:00am and traffic that robs me of hours in my day and blahhhhh…. I just don’t want to think about it anymore. Instead, let’s pretend I’m still in the South and mull over that for a while. For starters, Southern folks really love to fry their vegetables. And, we really love grits, especially cheesy grits. So, yeah that’s what I would rather think about, okay?
First, a word on cheese grits. Most self-respecting Southerners have a cheese grits recipe that involves baking in the oven to really get them just right. You know that scene in “My Cousin Vinny” where the guy is offended at the suggestion that he uses instant grits? Where he proudly says in the courtroom, “I take pride in my grits!” Yeah, that’s not an exaggeration. This recipe, however, is the “quick” version of cheese grits, meant to be prepared over a stove in less than 30 minutes. If you’re lucky I’ll give you the recipe for my stepdad’s “real” cheese grits, but that will have to wait for another day.
Now, a word on frying vegetables. Most Southerners, my soon-to-be-husband included, like vegetables that have been deep fried in a nice thick batter. This method is often preferred because it hides the fact that what you are about to eat was once a source of nutrition. I, however, prefer a simple cornmeal crust on my veggies that are then fried in just a little oil in a pan. It’s a little lighter to eat, and the preparation is much easier for those of us that don’t own deep-friers (I’m looking at you, Paula Deen). I’m gonna eat this for lunch and pretend that I’m back in the South without a care or traffic jam in sight.
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 medium green tomatoes
¼ cup milk
½ cup cornmeal
Heat a thin layer of oil on high in a pan. Slice the tomatoes to ¼ inch thickness. Dunk the slices in milk, and then in the cornmeal. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they start to brown. Serve over delicious jalapeno cheese grits.
No-Bake Jalapeno Cheese Grits
½ cup cornmeal
2 cups water
1 tablespoon chopped Jalapenos
½ cup cheddar (add more if you like them really cheesy)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons butter
In a medium saucepan, combine salt & water. Bring the water to a boil and whisk in the cornmeal to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce heat and stir grits occasionally. Once they begin to thicken (after 5-10 minutes) add in the jalapenos, cheddar cheese and pepper. Stir for a few more minutes until they are at desired consistency. What constitutes “desired consistency” is often a source of debate; I really hate soupy grits but I don’t like them as a hard mash either. Just before serving add in the butter and stir well until grits are creamy and irresistible.