Creamy, smokey, sweet, spicy. How do you like all four of those adjectives in one dish? Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Now what if I say grits? Wait…wait…don’t click the back botton on your browser. Feel better if I say polenta? If not, you still are going to wait to stay on this page. Because this isn’t your standard cheap, instant grits served at some greasy diner, that have the character of cardboard. No, these are grits that are taken to the next level – to dare I say main course status. Bacon. Hatch Chiles. Fresh Corn on the Cob. Do I have your attention now?
Choosing the Right Grits or Polenta
You need to start by choosing the right type of grits. You don’t want instant. The best choice is stone ground. I like the stone ground grits from Bob’s Red Mill, easily found at most supermarkets. You can tell it’s stone ground if the pieces don’t look uniform as in the above photo. This means better texture and flavor. Also you want it to say on the package keep cold or refrigerated. This means that the grits contain the whole grain, which can spoil if left out at room temperature. The whole grain has more health benefits. So don’t cheap on the grits. Get the good stuff. Your body and taste buds will appreciate it.
The Bacon I Chose
Pick your favorite bacon. The bacon I picked was a Black Forest bacon, made in house at my local Whole Foods Market. I do recommend finding a store that does make their bacon in house and sells it in bulk, so you can get the freshest product and get exactly the amount you want. The bacon I bought was expensive per pound, but I had the option of buying exactly what I needed. In the end I spend as much as I would have had a package of cheap, low quality bacon.
Hatch Chile Peppers
A combination I love is when you add something spicy to something creamy. I first did that in my Hatch Chile creamed corn. Hatch and corn are a great combo. I got my Hatch Chile peppers directly from my friends at Frieda’s Produce. To maximize their flavor potential I always broiled them in the oven first (you can also do it on the grill). I freeze the leftovers to add to dishes throughout the fall and winter. Hatch peppers can vary in levels of heat. So slowly add to your dish until you taste what you are dealing with. If they are too mild for your liking, you can always add a dash or two of ground cayenne pepper or hot paprika. If Hatch peppers are not in season, you can opt for an Anaheim, Poblano, or just chop up a jalapeno and add it directly.
While grits are normally seen as a breakfast dish, this is a way to make them your entire dinner. I ate this for dinner for two nights. It did very well reheated. And had all the flavors you would want in a dish.
- 5 strips of bacon
- 2 ears of fresh corn
- 1 roasted Hatch chile pepper (can also use a Jalapeno, Poblano, or Anaheim)
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups stone ground grits
- 3 tablespoons butter
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- *Skip this step if you are using a Jalapeno. They are a little small to be roasting in my opinion
- Set your oven to broil. Place your pepper on a sheet pan and into the oven.
- Cook until the skin has been blistering and is turning black about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side.
- Remove from the oven and place into a bowl. Then cover with plastic wrap.
- In a wide and deep pan bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Slowly add the polenta, stirring while adding. Simmer stirring often until thick about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Taste to see if done. If not soft enough, add a little more water and continue to simmer until softer.
- Stir in the butter and cheese until they melt.
- When finished, keep over the lowest setting on your cook top.
- Place the bacon in a cold frying pan. Cook over medium heat.
- Once the bacon is browned on one side, flip it over. Cook until crispy. Set aside.
- Pour the bacon fat into a bowl and set aside, do not discard.
- Strip the corn off the cob with a sharp knife.
- Put enough bacon fat back in the pan to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Set to medium high heat and add the corn.
- Cook until the corn darkens and color and is browned just slightly. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the skin from your pepper as well as the seeds. Slice and mix into the grits.
- Cut the bacon in bite sized pieces and stir into the grits. Then add the corn.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cayenne pepper if you think it needs more heat (optional)