Better Than Grits on the Table by G. Hamlin O’Kelley

Those of us of a certain age will remember James Oldsmobile, late of Charleston. Hell, those of us of a certain age remember Oldsmobiles. James Olds had a very specific and memorable television ad where their Olds were advertised for $8,888. In a good old Charleston accent that was pronounced ate-e-ate-ate-e-ate.

At the end of the ad, old Mr. James said, “That’s bettah than grits on the tay-bull”

He was wrong then and now

There’s nothing better than grits on the table

Or is it hominy when it’s on the table?

In this part of the world hominy means cooked grits, not the hominy that has to be soaked in lye or whatever they do out west or south of the border

Venerable Charleston Receipts tells us that grits are the raw product, hominy on the table

Either way, there is nothing better than grits on the table

For a recent gathering, I made the following baked grits

Charleston Receipts has a version called an “Awendaw” or a “Hominy Surprise”

My mother added a contribution for a grits casserole to Sea Island Seasons published by the Beaufort County Open Land Trust

There are many versions for Cheese Grits Souffle’, too

All are good

But I think this Cheesy Grits Casserole is damned fine

Especially if you use our pals’ stone ground grits. Milled from the same family mill for generations. Thanks Anne Marie and Jimmy Hagood!

Charleston Favorites Stone Ground Grits. White Grits. Gluten Free for anyone with a gluten issue

This works well when there’s a crowd to feed and can be made a day ahead then baked the next morning. If making the day ahead, pour into casserole dish and let cool on counter before covering with plastic wrap and putting in the fridge overnight

I adapted this from a receipt Billy Reid, he of the fashion world fame, submitted to a food magazine

The last time I made it, I made it a day ahead

Those who were partakers asked for the receipt

Here it is

And, there is nothing better than grits on the table

Cheesy Grits Casserole

8 cups water

2 cups stone ground grits

Salt and white pepper

1 stick butter, cut into 8 tsps

1/2 lb. (8 oz) extra sharp white cheddar cheese (yellow is fine, too), grated by hand. Do NOT use pre-grated cheese. It’s covered in starches to keep it from caking and it doesn’t melt well

3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter well a 13×9 baking dish. Bring water to full boil and stir in grits. Turn down heat to low to medium low and cook grits over for 30 minutes stirring to prevent lumping and sticking. After 30 mins add salt and white pepper to taste. Stir and cook 10 more minutes. You may need to add a cup of water or so if the grits are too lumpy.

Take off the heat and add butter and mix well, then cheese and mix well then, finally, eggs and mix well. The residual heat from the grits will cause the eggs to set up but not cook

Pour into baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 hour until top is starting to brown a little

Let stand 15 minutes before serving

You can serve another Bloody Mary, fill water glasses, gather the plates, pour another cup of coffee, and say the blessing while it cools

Really a guest-friendly dish

All for less than $8,888

But it’ll be one of the best things you ate-e-ate.

G. Hamlin O’Kelley is an RCS contributor and a fine gentleman.  We’re lucky to have his work grace our pages.

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4 Comments

  1. SMB
    02/11/2022 / 6:22 PM

    Great timing on this. Had shrimp abs grits for dinner tonight.

    • Sam
      02/12/2022 / 8:18 AM

      This brought back memories of a similar cookbook my Mom used to make garlic cheese grits. We mourn the loss of the smoked tomato grits at Nava and the white cheddar grits at the Buckhead Diner, too.

  2. Sam
    02/12/2022 / 8:17 AM

    This brought back memories of a similar cookbook my Mom used to make garlic cheese grits. We mourn the loss of the smoked tomato grits at Nava and the white cheddar grits at the Buckhead Diner, too.

  3. Trip
    02/14/2022 / 5:11 PM

    I always cooked grits in just water until I read in Vivian Howard’s cookbook “Deep Run Roots” that she uses milk. Doing a split base of milk and water has totally changed my grits game. And as much as I love stone ground grits, I’ve got to say that the Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Corn Polenta is my go-to. It’s delicious and cooks up much quicker and without needing the extra step of having to wash off the husks.

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