Spinach & Jalapeno Cheddar Grits

I have a friend who is really, really into “Love Languages.” I wasn’t familiar with the concept beyond knowing that “love languages” exist, but she assured me that my love language would definitely be “acts of service.” I have to wonder, though, if my true love language is “acts of brunch.”

In expressing my chosen love language, I’ve come up with a recipe for the most ridiculous, over-the-top grits, and I’d like to invite you on my artery-clogging journey.

The key to success in any meal – especially brunch – is to hide your stress under layers of butter and heavy cream. I say “especially brunch” because we are already dealing with an audience that has skipped breakfast. Time is of the essence here – an audience can quickly turn into an angry mob. So, I did a lot of my prep-work the night before. Mops kept politely asking me to wrap it up:

But what Mops doesn’t realize is that I had two critical ingredients in my arsenal that I couldn’t wait to deploy: a leftover smoked jalapeno and some leftover spinach dip. I don’t know what made me think of shrimp and grits, but once I put those ingredients together in my head, the recipe below easily took shape. These grits are decadent. For the shrimp component, I loosely followed Bobby Flay’s recipe (but I added crawfish, corn, and cajun spice).

You could skip the spinach dip and just use sauteed fresh spinach (or a quick “hit list” of spinach dip ingredients). You could also use a fresh jalapeno, but cut the quantity way down – smoking reduces the heat considerably.

Spinach & Jalapeno Cheddar Grits

Yields 6 servings

You will need:

  • 1 low-sodium vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits (not instant grits)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup pepperjack cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
  • 1 whole smoked jalapeno or 1/2 fresh jalapeno, chopped, seeds removed
  • 1 cup spinach dip (or substitute 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 2/3 cup sour cream)

Method:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add bouillon cube and break apart with a wooden spoon. Add grits slowly, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the grits thicken (about seven minutes), stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small skillet. Saute the onion and garlic with black pepper and Cajun spice blend for about five minutes, until onions are fragrant. Set aside.
  • Add half-and-half, onion-butter mixture, and jalapeno to the grits. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low and cover the pot for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. If using a whole smoked jalapeno, remove from the grits after 30 minutes and discard. Stir in cheeses and spinach dip (or spinach dip components). Serve hot with extra cheese as a garnish.
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