Budget Stretcher: Leftover Makeover Fried Grits

Growing up in the South I learned early on to not only like grits but to love them...when they are made right!  It's really an economical hot grain to add to a breakfast menu or to let stand on it's own as a bowl of cereal.  You can eat it as you like it: with cheese, with scrambled eggs stirred in, with butter, or even with sugar and milk if you like, though I confess we've never gone that far in this household!  

So yes, grits truly are a standard in my home for breakfast.  I've learned over the years to make just enough for breakfast and not have leftovers, but the other morning, I slipped up and put in too much salt, so I made some more grits to mix with the two salty grits.  I didn't quite get the balance right but near enough that the grits were edible.  However, I had an abundance of grits.  There were leftovers.  

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I debated over the weekend what I might do with those grits.  I could make a grits souffle which isn't a bad thing.  I had a lovely one at a restaurant once with cheddar and finely minced jalapeno that was beyond delicious.  I could simply reheat, adding a little milk, but that is an iffy way to go once grits have cooked.  They could come out lumpy or too thin and for us, the texture of the grits has to be just right.  I thought about it and put off doing anything with them until Tuesday.

Tuesday.  Two days out from grocery shopping and the fridge is looking mighty thin, except for a handful of leftovers I really needed to use up.  Which included that bowl of grits.  What to do?  I remembered a recipe from my favorite old cookbook a leftover use for grits: fry them.  That reminded me of Mama and I visiting the lovely little town of Forsyth and stopping to eat at their well known Grits Cafe where the croutons on my salad turned out to be cubes of fried grits.  

I'd altered my menu for the day to use chicken breasts I'd thawed for a company dinner and then hadn't used.  Santa Fe Chicken breasts sounded good and I thought fried grits would go well with the dish.  

Warm grits are easier to smash and remove lumps from.  So I heated them slightly in the microwave then put them in a bowl.  I smooshed them about until the lumps were all gone, added to my roughly 1 cup of grits, 1 egg and 1/4 cup flour, salt and pepper and mixed well.

Now and then I get to be a little perfectionist and want things to look just so.  I wanted round grit cakes and so I used a canning jar lid and ring.  I put grits in the ring and patted them down to fill the edges, then used the lid to push the cake up and out of my mold.  This acted like a spring-form pan of sorts.

I slipped the grits cake into my hot coil and fried until crispy and golden on one side and then flipped them to do the same on the other.
Don't they look pretty?  I drained them on paper toweling and then served them up nice and hot with our Santa Fe Chicken and a salad.  Of course, I forgot to take a photo of the plated food...We were pretty hungry by the time I'd made our meal!

The flavor of these cakes is hard to describe but it's a good bit like a cornmeal cake only lighter and creamier and more delicate with a more definite corn flavor than corn meal.  John was VERY skeptical when I told him my intent but he ate every one on his plate and said "You could do that again sometime," when he'd finished.  Them's high words of praise from The Man of this house.


Karla Neese said...

I love grits but I'm the only one in our house that does, so I never make it. I do, however, make fried corn meal mush (polenta if you want to be fancy) for breakfast as an occasional treat. Same concept as the fried grits.

This looks so yummy! I never thought of using the canning lid as a spring form sort of gadget but that is BRILLIANT!

Anonymous said...

My mother used to make cornmeal mush then frying slices of that later. I never thought of using grits! Will do! I also do a second use of left over grits by just reheating with some cheese melted in it. I imagine you do that already too. I wonder if you could put in some jalapeños in it or other good but less heated peppers? Or diced green onion like you do with potato patties? Sarah

JoAnn Baker said...

Fried grits sound good! When I read about how some people put sugar and milk on them it reminded me of my Grandma telling me "only northerners do that, cause they don't know what grits are!" I enjoy reading your blog SO much!

Deanna said...

What a good idea! I haven't made grits in a long time but I have a recipe I got at a New Orleans cooking class for sweet and spicy shrimp over cheesy grits. Now that you've got me thinking about it, I just might need to put that on this week's menu.

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