My first memory of eating cheese grits is seated at my Great Aunt Frances’ breakfast table. The table was tucked in a little alcove of the kitchen and afforded a view of the long, narrow room, where Aunt Frances busied herself at the stove, preparing breakfast for four hungry, pajama-clad little girls. As I was living in Wisconsin at that point in my life, it was during these visits to Memphis when I was introduced to staples of Southern fare. Aunt Frances’ table introduced me to not only my first cheese grits, but my first biscuits with sausage gravy and watermelon sprinkled with salt, among many other things.
My grandmother was not the best cook in the world and I generally had Eggo waffles at her house for breakfast, so it was always a bit of a revelation going to Aunt Frances and Uncle Jack’s (known to my cousins as Mimi and Daddy Jack) house where I was treated to such delicious things. Also, my brother’s old Atari somehow ended up at their place, so in addition to afternoons spend splashing around the swimming pool Uncle Jack built, there was a lot of sneaking off to the back room to play Donkey Kong.
Aunt Frances passed a few weeks ago. Like last summer when I traveled to Memphis for my grandmother’s funeral, I once again found myself driving to Memphis to say good-bye. I haven’t spend much time in Memphis since I was a child. As I grew up life got busy and it was harder and harder to make it out there for visits, so while I’d seen Aunt Frances at weddings and funerals, my memories of her are mainly through the filter of childhood. However, my memories of a kind and loving woman who loved children, her family and her church were echoed by everyone I spoke to. And, looking back, I think it was Aunt Frances, more than anyone else, who informed the way I think about Southern food due to those muggy Memphis summers spent sitting at that table watching her stir a pot of grits, flip sausage and bake biscuits. And that’s a tremendous gift that I’ll always treasure.
- 1½ C Stone Ground Grits
- 4 C Water
- 2 C Whole Milk
- 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1⅓ C Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
- ¼ tsp ground Black Pepper
- 1 pinch Paprika
- Combine the grits, water, milk, salt and butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Once the liquid is boiling, turn the heat to low and continue to cook for about 40 minutes, stirring often. The grits may start to look thick and ready around 25 minutes, but keep the faith and keep stirring and cooking. If you taste them, the grits may be soft, but there will probably also be a little bit of a watery taste. When the grits are ready, they will taste more creamy than watery.
- Stir in the cheese, sriracha, black pepper and paprika. Serve immediately.
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy the following:
Mamo’s Egg Custard Pie on Peaches Please
Savory Big Brunch Grits on Peaches Please
Jalapeno Pimento Cheese on Peaches Please
Cheese Grits with Corn and Videlia Onion on Spicy Southern Kitchen