Tomatillo Cheddar Grits
Until about a month ago, all I knew about tomatillos is that they’re green. I’d never even touched one, much less cooked with them. Well, you can officially consider me a tomatillo convert. These amazing little green tomato-looking things are usually really inexpensive (my grocery store sells them for $0.99/pound), really easy to use (just make sure you peel off the husk and give them a good rinse), and really tasty! They can be used similarly to tomatoes, but they require a little more prep work and have a different, tangier flavor.
Also, let’s talk about the difference between polenta and grits. First of all, I’m not entirely sure what the difference between the two is, other than one being Italian and the other being Southern. I’m sure people think polenta is classier than grits, since it’s Italian, which somehow inherently makes it “better.” Now for a a brief rant: the other day I saw a link to “10 Rules for Eating in Italy” and it was such freaking pretentious b.s. Apparently Americans are complete barbarians with no sense of appreciation for food, and doing anything in Italy that is not Italian is going to ruin your life and everyone else’s too. I’ve lived in a number of other countries, and I know that eating the food you are used to eating back home can be one of the most comforting things you’ll ever do. My husband wooed me with promises of lasagna when were in Peace Corps, for god’s sake. So, yes, make yourself eggs in the morning for breakfast and relish that barbequed chicken with loads of sticky sweet barbeque sauce. Chances are everyone already knows you’re a foreigner anyways.
Anyways. We ate the grits with chile garlic shrimp, and the combination was amazing. This was the first time I’ve ever made grits, and now I’m emboldened to try other recipes. There is this restaurant in Atlanta called the Flying Biscuit that makes the best creamy cheese grits I’ve ever had… I swoon just thinking about it. Luckily I have the restaurant’s cookbook (which is sadly under-utilized) so I’ll have to give those a try next!
Tomatillo Cheddar Grits
Adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
You might want to the cook the grits for a little longer than the package instructions say since you’ll be adding at least a cup of liquid with the tomatillo puree. I didn’t do this and the grits were a little runny (although still delicious). Also, if you use fresh tomatillos rinse them off after you remove the husks since sometimes they can be sticky and kind of gross. Make sure to use flavorful cheddar, otherwise you can’t really taste the cheese since the dish is so flavorful!
1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed, or 1 11-ounce can, drained
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 serrano chile, stems and seeds removed, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup grits
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
If using fresh tomatillos: on high heat, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook tomatillos until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain and place in a blender. If you’re using canned tomatillos just put them in the blender.
In a skillet, heat the butter on medium-low heat and cook onions until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds, or until fragrant.
Put the onions and garlic in the blender with the tomatillos, diced serrano chiles, cilantro, cayenne, and lime juice. If necessary, add 1/4 cup of water and blend the ingredients until you have a smooth puree.
Cook the grits according to the package directions using 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of water. When the grits are done, stir in the tomatillo puree and cheese. Add salt and black pepper to taste and serve immediately.