Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Southern Sunday Sides

Did you happen to notice the other items on the plate with the Smoke Box Ribs? Side dishes are the hidden gems of a meal and they need to be prepared with the same care as the main course. If you are going to spend time making a great meal why would you open a can of green beans to complete the meal? Not to mention canned vegetables have sort of been banned at my house. Two side dishes I have grown to love are grits and greens. My wife loves both, so we have them quite often. Just keeping in touch with her southern roots I guess. Let me start off with the grits.

Grits by themselves, are not my favorite thing to eat. Grits with cheese? Now THAT is something I like. Cheesy grits are not difficult to make, in fact they are really easy. We based these on a recipe by Ina Garten and they are pretty awesome.

Creamy Cheddar Grits, adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

4 Cups Water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Cup of Quick Grits
2 Tbsp of Butter
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cup sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 ear of corn, roasted on the grill
½ cup of green onions, chopped
pepper to taste

Bring the water to boil and add the salt, then slowly pour in the grits while stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the milk, butter and cream. Bring the pot back to a simmer then let the grits cook on low for about 30 to 45 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the grits are smooth and creamy remove from heat and add in cheese, corn, green onion and pepper. A note on the corn: we used roasted corn on the cob to give the grits a nice flavor and texture…the original recipe doesn’t include this step so if it is too much trouble for you feel free to skip it. We just threw the corn on the grill with the ribs! These are easily the creamiest grits I’ve ever had and with the crunch from the onions and corn? They are really good, try them.

Boozy Braised Collard Greens

Now "Greens" are a labor of love, they take a while to cook (1 ½ hours!) but once they are done they are just so good. And really, after you get everything in the pot, you are just leaving it to cook on its own. We have done quick greens recipes and the results just never measure up, they really are worth the extra time. Like cheesy grits, greens recipes are going to be similar with just a variation or two. We adapted the Boozy Braised Collard Green recipe from the Neely’s. Down Home with the Neely’s is a great show (on Food Network); they really do seem to get along well with each other and have a good time in the kitchen like my better half and I do. Has anybody ever been to their restaurant? Definitely a place I’d like to try. You can find their recipe here. We replaced the Bourbon with Jack Daniels and used a mixture of Collard and Mustard Greens. I know not everyone is familiar with Greens but they really are amazing cooked like this. I hope you try them!

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