Sunday, May 23, 2010

38. Baked Polenta with Cheese and Okra

From 1999 Southern Living Annual Recipes

When you're talking about Southern food, cheese grits and okra are two staples. So, it made sense when I saw the two combined.

Both the bottom and top of the dish had a great crust, with creamy grits in the middle. Putting the cheese in cubed was a great idea, as it made little pockets of cheesiness.

I used frozen cut okra instead of fresh, and it worked just fine. Next time, I'd probably use garlic salt instead of regular, just for a little more flavor. All in all, a yummy, unusual, and visually attractive side dish, perfect with a grilled steak.

4 cups water, divided
6 small fresh okra pods
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese, cubed

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add okra and cook 10 minutes. Remove okra with a slotted spoon, reserving liquid in pan. Cool okra slightly and coarsely chop.

Add remaining 2 cups water to reserved liquid and bring to a boil. Gradually stir in grits and salt; return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5-7 minutes. Gradually whisk about one-fourth of hot grits into eggs. Add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in butter. Stir in okra and cheese. Spoon into a lightly greased 11x7 baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until set.

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