“Once a year, mainly because that’s as often as you should probably eat it, my family has a grits casserole on Christmas morning,” says Kevin Johnson, chef of the Grocery in Charleston, South Carolina. His mom received the recipe from a friend years ago, and now it’s a holiday staple for the family. The secret is to start the grits on the stovetop but to stop before they’re fully cooked so they can finish in the oven, where they’ll absorb all the savory, salty flavor from the pile of cheese you’re going to blend into them. “This recipe goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about cooking grits,” Johnson says, “but in the end, the crispy potato gratin-like crust hides the creamiest, cheesiest grits you’ve ever had.”
Food & Drink
Cheesy Grits Casserole
One day a year, enjoy the most decadent grits ever, courtesy of Charleston chef Kevin Johnson
photo: Phillip Rhodes
4 cups milk
1 cup coarse, stone ground grits
Salt and pepper
10 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
4 oz. butter, cut into small pieces
3 oz. parmesan cheese, grated with a micro plane
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, bring milk to a simmer.
Slowly whisk in grits and reduce heat to low. Cook grits, stirring often until milk is absorbed and grits are thick (20 to 30 minutes). Season grits to taste with salt and black pepper. Add gruyere cheese and beat with a handheld mixer on high for about 5 minutes until very fluffy.
Turn grits into a greased 9 x 11-inch baking dish. Dot top of casserole with pats of butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and deep golden brown on top.
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