Adrienne Cheatham gives her secret to grits in this overnight grits with fried eggs and mushroom ragout recipe.
Most people know that rice has roughly 1:2 ratio (1 cup rice + 2 cups water = 2 cups cooked rice). But grits are actually 1:4. Meaning that the tiniest bit yields four times the amount!
Needless to say, grits are an economical way to feed yourself or a crowd. They don’t require a lot of gussying up to be delicious. A bit of butter, salt, and pepper stirred in, paired with a slice of toast on the side, is amazing. Or, a simple, sustaining mushroom ragout like this one.
Here’s the thing to know when preparing grits, though they’re not supposed to be gritty. You know there’s a problem if they stick between your teeth!
Cheatham’s aunt Dottie in Mississippi taught her a trick to avoid the grit faux pas: Soak them overnight, just like you would beans. It softens that tough outer hull and ensures you get a perfect cook every time!
Recipe by Adrienne Cheatham, Sunday Best: Cooking Up the Weekend Spirit Every Day (Clarkson Potter/Publishers) Copyright ©2022, Image by Kelly Marshall
Serves 6 to 8
2 cups stoned-ground white grits
2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons kosherr salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dried porcini or other mushrooms
1 pound cremini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 pound white button mushrooms, rinsed and sliced (or you can use wild mushrooms, if desired)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 to 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
⅓ cup white wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 eggs per person
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the overnight grits:
For the mushroom ragout:
For the fried eggs:
For the overnight grits:
- The night before, place grits in a medium heavy-bottomed pot along with 6 cups of water. Stir once or twice and let grits settle for a couple of minutes. Use a tea strainer, fine-mesh sieve, or a large spoon to skim the surface and remove any floating hulls. Cover the pot with a lid and let it sit on the counter overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook the grits, add the milk to pot and bring to a low simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the hear as low as possible and continue cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until thick and creamy.When stirring, be sure to scrape the bottom and edges of the pot to make sure the grits are not sticking and clumping.
- When the grits have been cooking just shy of 30 minutes, check them for tenderness. They should be smooth and creamy. If they are still a little al dente, continue cooking on very low heat and add a splash of milk. Once they have reached your desired consistency, stir in salt; taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Stir in butter and a little pepper and keep it covered over very low heat until ready to serve.
For the mushroom ragout:
- While grits are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put dried porcinis in a medium bowl and cover with 3 cups of very hot water. Let mushrooms soak for 20 to 30 minutes, until rehydrated and plump.
- Place the cremini and button mushrooms in a large bowl and toss them with the olive oil, a couple of heavy pinches of salt, and a little pepper. Lay them in a single layer of the prepared baking sheet and roast until mushrooms have shriveled and caramelized slightly, about 20 minutes. If they are sticking to the foil, splash a little water onto the sheet to dissolve the fond (the fancy French term for the browned bits). Transfer mushrooms and their liquid to a bowl and set aside.
- To finish the mushroom ragout, scoop out the rehydrated porcinis (reserving their soaking liquid), place them in cheese-cloth or on a kitchen towel, and squeeze them over a small bowl. Save this liquid separately from the soaking liquid. Rinse porcinis well to make sure no dirt or sand remains. Chop them roughly and add to the bowl of roasted mushrooms.
- Heat a heavy pot or medium saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, garlic, shallots, and thyme leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until shallots and garlic are tender and just beginning to brown at the edges, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, then add wine. Let wine simmer until reduced by a little more than half, about 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to low, pour the liquid you squeezed from the porcinis into the pot, and simmer with the mushrooms for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a small bowl, stir cornstarch and ½ cup of the porcini soaking liquid until cornstarch is dissolved, making sure there are no lumps. Stir the slurry into the pot and simmer until beginning to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. (If you like your gravy thicker, dissolve a little more cornstarch in warm water, stir it into the pot, and cook it for a few more minutes. If you want it to be thinner, add more of the porcini soaking liquid.)
- Divide the hot grits among serving bowls. Make a well in the center of each bowl and spoon mushroom ragout on top.
For the eggs:
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat; add about ½ inch of oil to the pan. Crack two eggs at a time into a small bowl.Cook, using a spoon to baste the whites with the hot oil (but avoiding the yolks), until whites are set on top and bubbled and browned at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, remove eggs from the pan, blotting away any extra grease with paper towels, and place on top of the ragout. Spoon a little more ragout on top, if desired. Serve immediately.
Find more rustic recipes from Adrienne Cheatham in her book Sunday Best: Cooking Up the Weekend Spirit Every Day. From the book Sunday Best: Cooking Up the Weekend Spirit Every Day by Adrienne Cheatham with Sarah Zorn. Copyright © 2022 by Adrienne Cheatham. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Kelly Marshall. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
- Recipe by Adrienne Cheatham, <i>Sunday Best: Cooking Up the Weekend Spirit Every Day</i> (Clarkson Potter/Publishers) Copyright ©2022