“You have to cook the grits first” she’d say as she bent down, reaching for the cabinet by the stove to hand me a pot. “Use this one”
I’d stare at the small pot quizzically, a bit unsure of how to correctly proceed at “cooking the grits first”. After about 10 seconds of inaction, she’d say- without turning around-
“They’re not going to cook themselves with you just standing there.”
Put the stock in the pot and boil it.
“This one” I’d ask, pointing to the glass jar that used to be full of pickles but has now found new purpose in the afterlife, as a stock jar.
“Boil the stock with some butter then whisk in the grits a little bit at a time. And don’t forget the cream.” Got it. But not really
Slowly I begin to whisk in the grits using a wooden spoon instead of the whisk beside me.. I correct this before she notices. As large bubbles begin to form, it’s almost like watching a volcano erupt and the drops that splatter on my hand burn like lava. I drop the whisk on the floor and stand back.
“You need to turn the heat down and add some cream to it”
She must be crazy, my skin will never recover if I stand close to that pot.
“Just give it to me” she takes the whisk and starts turning the pot while slowly adding in cream. I watch in silence, noticing two things, 1.) She doesn’t get any spatters on her hands 2.) she sticks her finger in to “test” how done they are without flinching.
After about 10 minutes she’d declare the grits done and me a strange bird for being afraid of grits.
“One day it’ll come easy to you, you’ll show your kids like I’m showing you and continue on the legacy”
The legacy of how to proceed to cook the grits first.? At 10 years old this sounded ridiculous.
The only legacy I’d carry on would be my Lisa Frank folders and my walkman. How my grandmother could think anything else would take precedence over those things was beyond me.
So this weekend as my daughter and I made a quiche for breakfast. She trudged down the stairs with as much enthusiasm as I have when I walk into the dentist office. I reach down in the cabinet by the stove and handed her a pot and told her
“You have to make the grits first”
Caramelized Onion and Grits Crusted Quiche
Prep Time: 50 mins Cook Time: 25 mins + 1 hr 20mins Yield: 6 servings
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine
*A quiche can be dressed up using whatever you have on hand. From fresh herbs to potatoes and ham, you can adapt this recipe to your liking. Make this meatless by removing the country ham. *
*Make ahead- this is a prefect make ahead brunch staple. Mostly I bake this the night before and reheat at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Or I’ll prepare all the ingredients and wait to assemble and cook in the morning. To do this, it’s best to keep the egg/milk mixture well covered and separate until ready to pour.*
* Carmelizing onions and the time it takes for them to brown will vary from stove top to stove top. My directions are the times that worked for me however the onions may take long (or not as long) to carmelize on your stove. *
Olive Oil (to coat the bottom of the pan)
2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the grits and filling:
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup stone ground grits
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 ½ cups half &half
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped country ham
To caramelize the onions: Using a wide, thick bottom sauté pan. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil (EVOO), I used about 2 tablespoons for my pan, and butter. Heat oil and butter over medium high heat until oil is simmering. Add in thinly sliced onions and toss to coat. Allow onions to cook stirring occasionally. At this point you want to allow the onions to cook, checking every 5 to 10 mins and only stirring occasionally to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The key is to leave them to cook not stirring too often as this will delay the caramelization process. For golden brown color it took about 45 minutes for my onions after I turned down the heat to medium after 30 mins.
Set onions aside and prepare the grits crust:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a saucepan over medium high heat bring chicken stock to a boil. Slowly whisk in grits, salt and pepper. Pour in cream and butter, whisking to incorporate. Continue to whisk constantly until very thick, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese, let stand for about 10 minutes. Now whisk in 1 egg. Spread grits mixture on the bottom of 9 x 13 in baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 –25 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over baked grits.
Reduce oven to 325.
In a large bowl, combine the half and half, cream, caramelized onions, and remaining 5 eggs, with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. Sprinkle country ham over baked grits, then pour egg/milk mixture over the top.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 mins or until lightly browned. Let stand for 20 minutes Slice and serve with biscuits of course.