Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Afternoon Delight: Smoked Gouda Grits with Fried Turkey Pepperoni

Okay, so first day of classes wasn’t exactly stellar; being denied from classes on my wish list had me pretty bummed. Oh and my computer adapter decided not to give me the green light anymore and drained my laptop battery, which pushed my blog writing back a little. Flustered by lunchtime, and with two more classes in sight, I indulged in some traditional southern delight: grits. For those of you unfamiliar with grits, they are small, broken bits of corn. Think coarse-ground corn porridge similar to polenta or cornmeal, but white and a bit thinner once cooked. Grits originated with the Native Americans, was adopted by the Southerners and now has been adapted and enjoyed by all.
There are plain grits, butter grits, cheese grits and sugar grits, but today I was in the mood for a smokier flavor. The neglected pound of smoked Gouda chilling in my fridge finally was going to be put to use, but I was determined to go beyond just cheese grits. I wanted bacon. That crispy, salty meat would be a perfect addition to the grits! But a quick glance into the back of the fridge only produced some chicken, ground beef, sliced turkey lunch meat and some turkey pepperoni. Turkey pepperoni…was it limited only to snacks and pizza? Rushing to the stove, frying pan in one hand, olive oil in the other I set out to experiment once again.
As it turns out, fried turkey pepperoni is an excellent substitute for crumbled bacon. After quartering the pepperonis, they browned quite well when fried with olive oil. Happily dancing about the hall kitchen in celebration of my latest success, I moved onto the cheese sauce. This is a standard cheese sauce recipe, follow the first few steps, then add a cheese of your choosing – it works for nearly all of them. The measurements of the ingredients can be adjusted to your preferred consistency [thick or thin].
Cheese Sauce
2 T butter
2 T flour
½ - ¾ C milk
About 10 dice-sized cubes of cheese
1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat.
2. Add flour, mix with butter until it bubbles and gets hot [more butter may be necessary]
3. Brown mixture for a about 2 min ---- ***at this point you are nearly making a roux***
4. Turn down heat to medium. Add milk to pan. Mix until roux has been incorporated into milk. Stir constantly while sauce thickens. [May need to add more milk]
5. Once it is at the desired thickness, add in cheese. Stir constantly until melted and mixed.
Makes about 1 C of cheese sauce.
At this point, with a delicious Gouda cheese sauce complete, I stirred in the crumbled turkey pepperoni. Then you follow the package instructions and prepare grits – today my eyes were much bigger than my stomach, but I was really eating for two: me and my bad mood. It’s amazing how quickly a day can turn itself around when good eating is incorporated.
I added only pepper to the grits, then I plopped a few large steamy scoops onto my plate and topped it with my cheesy, pepperoni sauce. It was the perfect comfort food. The color of the dish wasn’t anything to note, but the taste made my mood increase by at least five happy points with every bite. Overall, success!

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