Clothing designer Billy Reid says, "Folks in the South start eating grits young. You learn to love them as a kid and it never goes away." Using old-fashioned, stone-ground grits gives the casserole a better texture and flavor than quick cooking grits.
Douglas Keane and his mother, Kathryn Douglas, occasionally hunt for mushrooms together on the Sonoma Coast in California. After one of their more successful foraging trips, she came up with this earthy recipe while cooking for Keane and his brother. Keane describes it as one of the most satisfying dishes he has ever eaten because the brilliant sherry broth adds a sophisticated twist to one of his favorite comfort foods, creamy grits.
"I decided to citify low-country cuisine by adding lots of chopped garlic and fresh goat cheese," says Bobby Flay of these hearty yet elegant grits. The end result is a tangy, creamy, corn-flecked side dish.
Crispy Grits with Sweet-and-Sour Beets and Mushrooms
This recipe was inspired by a grits dish made by Paul Virant, who worked in Blackbird's kitchen before becoming chef at Vie in Western Springs, a Chicago suburb. "Grits aren't necessarily part of my cooking—polenta would be more traditional. But the texture of these white grits blew me away," he says.
Southern and Southwestern ingredients unite in this sustaining meal of beans, peppers, and tomatoes over the best grits you will ever eat. If you don't have the quick-cooking variety, use regular and follow the instructions on the package.