“Grits,” “mush,” “polenta,” “gruel,” whatever you want to call it, it’s easier to prepare in a slow cooker than by any other method. I love grits any way and any time of day, which is why this recipe aims at eternity. It starts with a basic recipe for stone-ground grits (mechanically ground grits come out mushy), and then amends it with peaches and pecans for breakfast, bacon and cheddar for lunch, and a ragoût of wild mushrooms for dinner. I don’t advise you to eat all three in one day, but life could be worse.
Yield: 6 servings
For the grits:
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups stone-ground grits, yellow or white
For breakfast, peachy pecan grits:
½ cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 peach, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
For lunch, bacon-cheddar grits:
2 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
For dinner, spinach grits with wild mushroom ragoût:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, chopped
8 ounces wild mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster, or shiitake, cut into slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth Kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 bag (about 6 ounces) baby spinach, finely chopped
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
To make the grits, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt, pepper, and butter and stir until tile butter melts. Add the grits in a slow, steady stream as you stir constantly with a whisk. Continue stirring until the grits return to a boil. Scrape into a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Cover the cooker and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 5 to 6 hours on low, until creamy and thick.
To make Peachy Pecan Grits for Breakfast, heat the half-and-half and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Stir the sweetened cream into the cooked grits, along with the peach and pecans.
To make Bacon-Cheddar Grits for Lunch, stir the bacon and cheese into the cooked grits and continue stirring until the cheese is half melted.
To Make Spinach Grits with Wild Mushroom Ragoût for Dinner, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until barely tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, and parsley and simmer until the mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.
Stir the spinach, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and the cheese into the cooked grits and continue stirring until the spinach wilts. Serve the grits topped with the sautéed mushroom ragoût.
Precook: 10 minutes
Slow Cook: 3 to 4 hours on high, or 5 to 6 hours on low, in a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker