Outside the South grits are a foreign and sometimes weird food. There’s no doubt that they can be phenomenally bad. The worst grits I ever had were “cheese” grits at a waffle house outside of Charlotte, NC, in the late 1980s: a bowl of grits with a slice of American cheese food product on top. Disgraceful. They should have known better (and probably did, more to their shame).

Grits at their best are another thing all together, and this cheese grits casserole comes close.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup grits (best to use stone ground if you can get them, otherwise regular grits will work, but under no circumstances consider “instant” grits)
  • 6 oz grated sharp cheddar (1 1/2 cups); use other cheeses as desired–Gouda is fabulous.
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 2-quart ceramic or glass baking dish. Cook grits according to package directions. Remove from heat and add 1 cup cheese, and butter. Stir until melted. Add milk, eggs, and pepper; mix well. Pour into baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.