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.