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What Are Cheddar Grits?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Cheddar grits are a type of food made from dried crushed hominy, with the addition of cheddar cheese. This dish can be made at home from scratch, but is also available in instant form in many grocery stores. Unlike the home-cooked version that uses fresh cheese, instant cheddar grits are typically made using powdered, dehydrated cheese. Often served as a breakfast food, this dish is a favorite in the southern region of the United States. Cheddar grits can be served plain or with bits of meat and seasonings added.

Instant versions of cheddar grits are popular because they cook quickly, and with much less fuss than those that are made from scratch. In addition, instant grits can usually be purchased in boxes containing single-serving pouches. These grits can be cooked by simply adding boiling water to a bowl filled with the instant mixture. Once cooked, seasonings and butter can be added to taste.

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It is true that instant cheddar grits offer time saving shortcuts, but many would argue that the superiority of the taste and texture of the home-cooked version might be worth the extra trouble. Not only does fresh cheese usually taste better than dried cheese, but the consistency of home cooked grits is typically much more smooth and creamy than that of instant. Making cheddar grits from scratch usually involves mixing the dried hominy with salt and water, and cooking on a stovetop for about 20-30 minutes, then adding the cheese once the grits are done. It's a simple enough process, except in order for the grits to be smooth and creamy, the mixture requires constant stirring and attention. Sometimes a bit more water needs to be added as the grits cook to keep them from clumping together or over-thickening.

Cheddar grits are typically served as a side dish to accent breakfast foods such as eggs, ham, bacon, and sausage. Sometimes grits are served as a main dish, usually with bits of bacon, ham, or breakfast meats added to the mixture. Most people season their grits with salt, pepper, and butter, but some people prefer instead to sweeten their grits, though this is less common when cheese has been added.

Grits are made from hominy, which are simply dried, hulled kernels of corn. Most of the time, the quality of grits is directly related to the type of corn used. In the extreme South, where grits are most popular, some people go to the trouble of choosing ears of corn based on the quality of hominy the ears will produce. They often make their own hominy and either grind it themselves or send it to local mills for grinding.

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