Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits

Wherein a northerner shares two southern secrets: the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. I'm willing to bet: you already have own the "secret tool" and your fridge is home to the "secret ingredient". Just check, am I right? Try these secrets on your own favorite grits recipe. Or try my latest, a southwest-style pot of grits with a touch of green chili and a touch of cheese, low in calories but full of flavor.

Learn the two southern secrets for the quickest, easiest, tastiest way to cook grits. The techniques will work on your own recipe or try mine, the full-flavored but low-calorie. Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits

“Try the shrimp ‘n’ grits every chance you get,” recommended our friend Mary when she heard we were heading for the Carolina coast. “Every restaurant makes them different.”

Four big plates of creamy grits with fresh shrimp later – over about 28 hours! – we were smitten. Our favorite was a creamy plate of breakfast shrimp and grits, all about the shrimp cloaked with a silky sauce. Determined to create our very own “house recipe” for shrimp ‘n grits, we picked up the Shrimp and Grits Cookbook by Nathalie Dupree in Charleston.

Her book offered two grits tips that proved life-changing, grits-wise anyhow.

Funny though, the tips were presented as casual one-liners, almost throw-aways, the way you might mention something that every southerner already knows.

But let it be known, there are two secrets for the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. No throw-aways here! Take note!

HALF MILK - HALF WATER Grits turn out extra-creamy when they’re cooked in half water and half milk. Worth knowing! Even a small portion of milk makes a big difference. Evaporated milk works great too.
MICROWAVE GRITS Grits cook really well in the microwave, even stone-ground grits. This is totally worth knowing, especially if like me, you have experience, twice, of stirring-stirring-stirring big pots of grits for more than an hour.

ABOUT STONE-GROUND GRITS Quick-cooking grits are easy to find, my grocery store even carries a house brand that competes with Quaker. But I do much prefer the stone-ground grits for texture, flavor and “real food” values. I have great luck with Bob’s Red Mill grits found in many grocery stores and also buy stone-ground grits from War Eagle Mill in Arkansas, very good stuff! Do store stone-ground grits in the fridge or even the freezer, otherwise, they’ll go rancid quite quickly.

FUNNY STORY On our drive to Florida's Emerald Coast in July, we timed our trip to stop for a week's worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market east of Montgomery, Alabama. We stacked up, for sure! But our most memorable purchase was stone-ground grits from Oakview Farms. Feeling all knowledgable, I asked if the grits were this year's crop. "This year's crop?" the vendor scoffed back. "They are yesterday's crop." Mighty fine grits, those from Oakview Farms.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

MICROWAVE GREEN CHILI CHEESE GRITS

Real Food. Vegetarian. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.
Hands-on time: 10 minutes plus occasional attention
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 3 cups
  • 1 cup (160g) stone-ground grits (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) low-fat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated cheese (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 ounces canned mild green chilies (see TIPS)
  • Green onion, for garnish, optional

Combine grits, water and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. (I use a 4-cup Pyrex liquid measure but something bigger would work better to prevent the grits from spilling over.)

Microwave for 10 – 15 minutes, giving the grits a good stir every 2 minutes, especially near the end. Watch carefully, you don’t want these to spill over!)

Stir in cheese until it melts, then add spices and chilies.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately.

MAKE-AHEAD Better yet, cook the grits now and them serve them later! This is a favorite make-ahead side dish, it rewarms beautifully in the microwave and keeps for several days. You really can’t tell that it’s been made ahead of time! You may want to add extra liquid to loosen the grits when reheating.

ALANNA’s TIPS My Auntie Karen gave me this recipe, she uses quick-cooking grits – note that's "quick" grits but not "instant" grits – and cooks the grits in a saucepan on the stovetop with 2-1/4 cups water. I once had some quick grits on hand so tried cooking 1 cup quick grits with 3 cups half-water and half-milk in the microwave: it worked fine. For cheese, I’ve used smoked Gouda, a “Mexican” grated cheese mix, cheddar even none at all! No chilies on hand? Not excited about the added small measure of heat? Skip the green chilies entirely.

GREEN CHILI CHEESE GRITS in the SLOW COOKER Last year, I started cooking grits in the slow cooker. It takes two to three hours and the grits must be stirred to minimize sticking but still, the grits turn out just beautifully. I have converted (and tested, you know I test-test-test all my recipes, right?!) this microwave recipe for the slow cooker, see, Slow Cooker Green Chili Cheese Grits, an adaptation of this recipe and my recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato (or Pumpkin or Butternut Squash) Grits.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per quarter cup/half cup: 63/127 Calories; 2/4g Tot Fat; 1/2g Sat Fat; 5/10mg Cholesterol; 256/512mg Sodium; 9/18g Carb; 1/2g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 2/5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1/2.5, WW PointsPlus 2/3 CALORIE COUNTERS 1/3 cup = 100 calories.
Adapted from a recipe from my dear Auntie Karen.

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Love this! Anything with green chiles is a win!
 
Thanks, Meagan! I've got some fresh hatch chilis in the fridge, want to roast them for cornbread or maybe, just maybe, more grits!
 
I like grits, having worked across the street from the Capital of the Confederacy for several years, but the family? Fools, the lot of them. Still, I'd like to go on a shrimp and grits vacation.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna