*Original post: November 17th, 2015
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I did not like grits. Its true, and I am ashamed. I can’t say when exactly I started to like grits, but once I did I wanted them all the time. And in the past few years, I have made SO many grits that it has kind of become my specialty.
People will ask me, “What’s your go-to dinner to make?” Answer is always, “Shrimp and grits”. It is my absolute favorite meal to make and I have a few different versions that I like to play with. But today, I am mixing it up a little bit and going with…..FISH N’ GRITS. To be exact, this is “Cajun Fish n’ Grits with Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Grits”. If you can read that without drooling, there might be something wrong with you.
Now, if any of you attempt this recipe, feel free to mix it up as you like, but please, PLEASE (I beg of you), use stone ground grits. It makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE. If you plan on using instant grits just know that I’m judging you. Just kidding. Kind of.
Ingredients for this recipe:
-one half bunch kale
-1 clove garlic
-1 diced jalapeno
-one small onion or half of a large one
-1-2 links sausage of choice
-2 fillets of cod
-2 cups cream
-2 cups water
-1 cup stone ground grits
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-2 tbslp cajun seasoning
-salt and pepper
Alrighty, so I always start off this recipe by getting the grits on first. They are best cooked for 45-an hour so go ahead and get those on. In general, for stone ground grits, it calls for 4 cups liquid and one cup grits. I mix cream and water for the liquid (2 cups cream, 2 cups water) and get that boiling with one diced jalapeno. Then add the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low.
There are three main things to remember while cooking grits. One: stir with a whisk frequently. I’m talkin’ like every 3-4 minutes. Two: watch the consistency. If they start to look too thick, don’t be afraid to continually add a little bit more cream or water throughout to thin them out. If they look too thin, just stir even more frequently. Three: salt and taste throughout. Grits are a tough thing to season correctly. Every so often, taste the grits and add a couple dashes of salt. Keep in mind though, for this specific recipe we will be putting cheddar cheese into the grits at the end and that is a salty cheese, so don’t go too overboard!
Once the grits are done, turn the grits off and that is when the cheese can be added in. The original recipe that I first made called for an entire bag of cheddar cheese (2 cups). Something about using a whole bag of cheese makes me feel guilty as I usually try to be semi healthy. So I’m just going to say use as much cheese as makes you happy. I usually use around half the bag and add a little more if I feel needed. Add the cheese in gradually and stir with a whisk.
When the grits are at a midway point, get the kale and sausage sauté going. Start one half of a large onion going in olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the sliced sausage and cook until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Then add 1 clove diced garlic and cook for one minute. Add in about a half of one bunch cut up kale and immediately follow with ¼ cup chicken broth or water for the kale to wilt. I cook my kale for about 8-10 minutes. I gradually will add salt and pepper and stir, and add more liquid as needed since it absorbs it quickly.
For the fish, I wish I could tell you I created some delicious cajun seasoning on my own, but alas I did not. I was at Fresh Market and found this small packet of fish seasoning that was low sodium, gluten free, no GMOs and all that jazz. Seemed like a tasty mix, and it was. I found a similar recipe that has most of the same ingredients that you can make on your own here.
Season the fish on both sides (I used Cod but any white fish will be delicious I’m sure). Heat a sauté pan with olive oil over high heat, cook fish for 3-4 minutes on each side until it’s a pretty charred color and cooked all the way through.
In a bowl layer the grits on the bottom, top with the kale and sausage mixture, and then top with the fish.
There you have it :)
While we are getting into some good southern cooking, you should check this song out. Makes me miss my Savannah, Georgia River (and warm weather):
Check it out here.