PIMENTO CHEESE GRITSOTTO (rice grits risotto with pimento cheese)
The Mississippi Delta is the well-spring of one of the South’s favored comfort foods, pimento cheese. It is the subject of many common conversations on food, and of many disagreements on whose recipe has the best DNA. Many a treatise has been authored concerning proper ingredients, their prominence in the recipe, and whether or not so-and-so puts this, that, or the other in theirs. In short, it is a highly personal subject, and it’s being the topic of open conversation in polite circles requires one to exercise toward another’s opinion due respect, feigned deference, or an outright masking of the impudence and defiance one may feel well up.
Regardless of origin or pedigree, any decent pimento cheese deserves a place in this recipe. The following uses Bears Gym pimento cheese from Clarksdale, MS-theirs has plenty of mayonnaise, 7 different cheeses, and legions of fans.
1 cup Original Mississippi Middlins or Missimati Middlins Rice Grits (one can use white or brown grits; see method #3 for different cooking times)
2.75 cups chicken stock, perhaps another ¼ cup to finish (can substitute up to ¼ of liquid with white wine)
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
¼ cup of cream
½ cup of Pimento Cheese
¼ cup cherry tomatoes split in half, or ¼ cup dried tomatoes packed in oil
½ cup of favored mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup toasted and salted pecans, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper, to garnish
¼ cup chives or green onions, for garnish
In medium saucepan or skillet, heat oil and lightly brown garlic. Add rice grits and swirl in pan to coat with oil. Slowly add stock.
At a moderately brisk simmer, stir every couple minutes.
White grits will thicken in about 8-10 minutes; brown grits will thicken in 15-18 minutes. Thick enough is when one’s spoon dragged on bottom of pan leaves a clean spot that fills slowly back in with grits.
Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, and pecans. Stir in cream. Add Pimento Cheese and blend well.
Garnish with black pepper and chives or green onions. Brown grits may need to rest covered 3-5 minutes, depending on preferred texture.