Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creamy Polenta

Hi Ya'll! This Yankee made Grits for the first time. OK are they grits or polenta? I don't know. They seem the same to me.I got this recipe for creamy cheese polenta from Pioneer Woman. She lives in Oklahoma. Is this considered part of the South, or is it the West? Sometimes I don't really know what qualifies as what, regionally. For example, sometimes it seems like the Mason Dixon line jumps up and includes Michigan, but Illinois is part of the Midwest, except for the extreme southern part that is by Kentucky. That seems like it is part of the South too.

So whether or not these are grits or polenta, I boiled my corn stuff for 15 min. The recipe called for 4 1/2 c of water, but I really think there should have only been 3 cups of water. The polenta-grits seemed a bit looser than I would have liked...even after it sat in the fridge for a day. The package directions say 3 c liquid to 1 c of grits, so I will follow that next time. I also used regular polenta grits (Bob's Red Mill Brand) and not the instant kind. Many of the reviews and comments on the website said that instant grits were nasty. Maybe the non instant kind requires less water? I don't know, never having made instant or the non instant varieties.

The recipe also called for Rotel tomatoes. I only had hot Rotel and I knew that would be way too spicy for Blockette, so I used a can of Roast tomatoes instead. I also used smoked paprika instead of the regular kind, and Colby jack cheese instead of Monterey jack.

One word on these grits, when you take the casserole out of the oven it will be very liquidy. It must it sit 15 min before serving or the whole thing will be a runny mess.

Not having had grits before I didn't quite know what to expect. My first impression was that they had the consistency of gritty mashed potatoes. Ah so THAT's why they call them grits! They took a bit of getting used to because I kept expecting them to be smooth like mashed potatoes, but once I retrained my brain, I found that I quite enjoyed them. What I found I liked even better, was eating them the next day!

Once my pan came to room temp, and before I stuck it in the fridge, I took a paper towel and soaked up all the excess liquid that had oozed out in the cooling process. I did this several times before I sliced them up into thick french fry sized slices. Then I carefully cooked each side on a non stick skillet. I think due to all the excess moisture, they cooked up best when I didn't use any oil. Some of the sticks did not hold their shape well in this process. I turned them into patties and cooked them up that way. I liked mine extra brown and crispy. (I thought I had a picture of the polenta grit sticks, but I cannot find it for the life of me. Most likely I forgot to take one.) Next time I will make a half batch using less liquid and see how it holds up to the leftover fry up method any better.

Creamy Grits with Chilies from Pioneer Woman
1 cup Grits (quick Or Regular)
4-1/2 cups Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
8 ounces, weight Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Cut Into Cubes
1/2 can Rotel (tomatoes And Chilies)
1 can (4 Ounces) Chopped Green Chilies
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
Black Pepper To Taste
1 whole Egg Beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil water and add salt. Add grits and stir, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in Rotel, chilies, grated cheese, and cream cheese. Stir in spices and check for seasonings. Add salt if needed. Beat egg. Drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of hot grits to temper, stirring constantly. Dump it all back into the pot and stir. Pour into a buttered baking dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and golden on top. Allow pan to sit for fifteen minutes before serving! Grits will firm up slightly as they sit. Stir a bit in the pan if needed.


  1. I was going to say something along the lines of being raised too far north, but then I remembered grits is white. I am glad you liked the grits. I have a ham, cheese and grits quiche recipe if you want. Even Picky Boy liked it ;)

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  3. I just recently made creamy polenta for the first time! Your polenta sticks sound soooo yummy.

    For a thicker consistency you should try a spoonbread recipe? I grew up with spoonbread (my mother's grew up in the Chesapeake area of southern VA... definitely the South.) And spoonbread sounds like it's the old name for polenta bread?!

    I made this recipe from cooking light for creamy polenta along with some balsalmic pork chops:

    This polenta was made on the stove top. It was really good. I used plain old corn meal as it is my understanding that there is little difference between that and polenta except for price? Like you said, it was like creamy, gritty mashed potatoes. I loved it!

  4. I have some cornmeal in my pantry and it seems like the polenta/grits stuff I bought is a coarser grind. Maybe it's because I have cheapo generic cornmeal?

    Your pork chops sound delish. I will have to give it a try!


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