Grits? Only in the past decade has grits, specifically cheesy grits, entered the culinary vernacular for parts of the U.S. north of the Mason-Dixon line. This girl, born in Chicago, but raised in NW Arkansas never cared for grits – I know, such a statement borders on blasphemy in the South – but what I knew as grits reminded me too much of Cream of Wheat – and I had that way too often as a fortifying, hot breakfast on school days…
Once I was introduced to Cheesy (cheese just makes everything better, doesn’t it?) Grits, usually with Blackened Shrimp, gracing restaurant menus from east to west, I fell hard, head over heels in love.
Take this New Latino Shrimp & Grits dish that featured Weisenberger grits, and Bourbon Red Eye gravy at a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon dinner, for instance, by the talent behind the soon to be released Southern Heat cookbook, Anthony Lamas, at his restaurant Seviche in Louisville, KY.
Or this version from the now shuttered Memphis Santora in Santa Ana. What a shame, but the original Memphis, adjacent to the Anti-Lab in Costa Mesa, still serves down-home cooking like buttermilk fried chicken with collard greens, Southern meatloaf, Po’ boys and jambalaya, and recently celebrated their 20th anniversary.
Or this crazy creamy skillet dish – one of the best on their menu IMO, from Chef Charlie McKenna of Lillie’s Q in Chicago and Brea, CA.
For the uninitiated, grits have a similar texture to polenta – they’re both made from corn, but grits can be stone-ground with a bit more texture going on – a lot of chefs swear by local gritsmills like Anson Mills and McEwen & Sons, or a medium grind similar to polenta. To learn tips on cooking grits, visit Southern Living – they know what they’re talking about.
However, what I’m serving up here today, is an alternative for people who need to watch their carb intake – people who have been diagnosed as pre-diabetes, diabetic, or even those who are trying to lose weight and counting carbs. Granted, cauliflower grits won’t taste as rich as cheesy grits, mostly because we’re not adding as much butter and cheese, but it’s a damn good alternative that’s satisfying, delicious, and guilt-less as well.
You’ve probably seen plenty of recipes online for cauliflower rice, but this is something different and I think you’re going to like it! I first served with with pork chops, using half a large head of cauliflower and, on another night, with Blackened Shrimp using the other cauliflower half.
- 2 cups cauliflower, finely chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon White Sarawak pepper
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
- 1 grilled or roasted Hatch chile, minced (about 1 tablespoon) - optional
- Heat the cauliflower, water, and butter in a 3 qt. saucepan over medium low heat. Cover and cook about 15 minutes until softened. Add the pepper, goat cheese, and chile. Mix well.
While cheddar or other sharp cheese is often used, goat cheese has much less sodium - 105 mg. per serving.If you’re not on a low sodium diet, feel free to use a sharper cheese.
And now that you’re drooling over shrimp and grits – try these guilt-less grits with blackened shrimp – cooked on the grill or in a cast iron skillet over high heat.