Creole Casserole of Grits & Fried Grits

Grits … Southern Polenta

It always amazes me when foreigners, ya know, any one north of the Mason-Dixon line, turn squeamish at the mere sight of a bowl of grits. What’s the big deal, ya’ll eat polenta don’t you and what exactly is polenta anyway. Isn’t it bits of ground corn? Hey, that’s what we call grits. Now I might get some dissension over this one, but speaking of foreigners, I think southerners introduced corn to the soils in Europe. Polenta, made with ground chestnuts in Italy for centuries suddenly became anew. Corn grew quicker, harvested easier and stored much better than chestnuts and today, Europeans should thank us for their revised polenta, er, grits.

There are three types of grits available: real grits (stone ground into coarse bits) sometimes called hominy grits, the ‘5-minute’ quick grits and at the bottom of the grit chain, instant grits. In my opinion, there are only two options, as the instant packages have no place in my home (maybe in the kitchen at the office). A good rule of thumb is to use a least 4 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of real or quick grits to achieve a creamy consistency and at least 1 good teaspoon of salt for every cup of grits. If you add salt after cooking grits, it will take much more and besides, they will never taste right. Real, unprocessed and stone ground grits are coarser than the quick grits and will take about 30 to 40 minutes to cook. That’s why the ‘5-minute’ grits are called quick, just so ya know. Many folks use water as the liquid but I like to use about half milk or at least 1 cup. It just makes it creamier and then there are some folks who use all milk. If using the grits in a casserole or in a fancier dish, use chicken stock as some of the liquid. Of course, ya gotta add a good dollop of butter at the end of cooking. The bottom of the pan has to be stirred every so often and after cooking, let it rest 10 to 15 minutes or longer, if you can wait that long. This resting period is what makes them so good.

Now, here is the recipe for a casserole, a Creole version I made the other day to serve with my Grillades. And following is another version using grits to go with Grillades or other dishes that we southerners are just as proud of, fried cakes of grits. Enjoy!

Creole Casserole of Grits
grits cake & creamy grits

2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits (any color)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs beaten
1 cup diced kernel corn
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

In a large pot over medium high heat bring the water and milk to a steady simmer. Do not let it boil over or let the milk scorch on the bottom. Add the salt and slowly, whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring the bottom often for 5 minutes or until tender and soft. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, paprika, cayenne and garlic. Taste and add salt if needed. Cover pot and let set for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk in the stock and the beaten eggs. Fold in the corn, onions and cheeses. Pour into a greased 3-quart oblong casserole dish and bake uncovered 25 minutes. Remove from the oven for a creamy casserole or turn off heat, and let set in oven to dry out if desired (cut into squares to make cakes).

Fried Cakes of Grits
You can use plain grits or elements of the recipe above if desired.

For Fried Grits: Cook grits according to package directions. When done, allow to cool a bit and beat in 1 egg. Pour into a greased loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerated until cold, best overnight. Invert and cut into 1-inch thick slices. Press each slice in cornmeal, Panko or a flour-breadcrumb mixture and fry in half-an-inch of hot butter or bacon fat until brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side.

Note: If using a recipe like the casserole above, reduce the stock liquid and do not cook in the oven. Pour in two loaf pans or in the oblong casserole, which can be sliced in squares or triangles. Proceed with the breading and sautéing as above.


  1. Amen, Drick. Never would have thought about your European-polenta-introduction theory. And I'll have you know, I grew up in a Yankee family that eats Grits ;-)

  2. @Emily ... wow... somehow cuz, I have never thought of you as a yankee

  3. oh yea now thats the way you do it uh huh uh huh~ nice job!

  4. I was so inspired by your Grillades that I didn't wait for this recipe and made them last night with rice. They were superb, though I had to cut the cayenne for our Yankee tastes. These grits will have to wait for another day...

  5. I like grits and I grew up in Philly. My first taste was in Tallahassee and I was 27 years old!
    Your post is great...I missed reading blogs while I was on vacation.

  6. ohhh grits I love the stuff.

  7. Hey, nice info on the history of grits...Love hominy grits, but have actually only had them for breakfast with some butter, salt and pepper...I love these recipes. Will have to show them to my Dad :) And then complain as to
    why he never made me anything like this :)

  8. I've never had polenta, but I love grits! The casserole and the cakes look fab! Can't wait to try them! Thanks for sharing, cher!

  9. Great recipe I would love to try these fried grit cakes...thanks for sharing


  10. And to think, I just emailed my T-day friends about having cheesy grits with our smoked brisket!
    You read my mind - thanks for the recipe!

  11. I'm a Yankee who loves grits especially in this style- how about accompanied by some Cajun style shrimp, now we're talking:)

  12. Okay - I'll try those fried grits. The only polenta I'll eat is chilled, sliced and toasted.

  13. Like minds...I just fried up some cornmeal mush this week! It's on my Monday blog! Someone asked if it was basically Polenta...well, heck, yeah!

  14. yum and super yum! made some a few days ago... with loads of blue cheese.

  15. Well not everyone north of the Mason Dixon is squeamish on grits! We have just opened up Daisy's Grits, a food stand totally devoted to selling prepared grits. We are located right in the middle of New York City at Bryant Park. While many of our customers are southerners visiting the city on holiday, a number are also steady New Yorkers, who just love a hot, steaming bowl of grits!


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