I had planned for this to be a side dish to go with some kielbasa, but when I looked at the recipe, I realized it contains enough meat to stand alone as a main dish. If you’re a grits “weenie”–meaning you didn’t grow up eating grits and can’t see yourself ever giving them a try–you can substitute 3 cups of cooked white rice.
Nassau Grits (or Rice!)
Saveur Magazine No. 99
The Coffee Cup Restaurant, Pensacola FL
8 slices of bacon
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 c. (about 6 oz.) finely chopped smoked ham
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c. old-fashioned stone-ground white grits *
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon, leaving the drippings in the skillet, to a paper-towel-lined plate to let drain and cool. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside.
Reserve about 3 T. of the bacon drippings in the skillet and discard the rest. Reheat the skillet over medium heat, add the onions and peppers, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until the peppers are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juice) along with the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add grits and salt to taste, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, thick, and creamy, about 30 minutes. Stir in the ham-tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve grits sprinkled with reserved bacon.
* If you can’t get the old-fashioned stone-ground grits, you can use the quick-cooking grits that only take 5 minutes to cook.
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