8-12ounces(225 - 340 g) sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded (use as much as you like the taste of)
3-6tablespoons(42 - 85 g) unsalted butter
1 ½pounds(680 g) mushrooms (I like a mix of Maitake, King Oyster, and Shiitake), cut into large chunks or slices
4tablespoons(56 g) unsalted butter, divided use
1/2large yellow onion, diced
1/2large bell pepper, seeded and diced
1cupdiced ripe tomatoes and their juices
½teaspoondried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
½ to 1cup(120-245 ml) vegetable stock
⅓cup(80 ml) heavy cream
1teaspoonWorcestershire sauce, tamari, or amino acids
2dashes Tabasco (or more, to taste)
Salt to taste
Snipped chives or chopped parsley, for garnish
In a large pot or dutch oven, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook let cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the grits are tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the salt, cheese, and butter and stir until melted. Cover and keep warm.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet or braising pan over medium heat. Add half of the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip the mushrooms over and brown on the second side, about 5 minutes more. Remove the mushrooms to a large plate. Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the now empty pan over medium heat and add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the seared mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated. Add the tomatoes, their juices, and the thyme and bring to a simmer.
In a small cup, stir together the cornstarch and 1 or 2 tablespoons of cool water to make a slurry. Add this to the pot along with 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes more. Add the tomato paste and stir until blended. Stir in the cream, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and more stock if needed to make a spoonable sauce that generously coats the mushrooms. Heat thoroughly, being careful not to let it come to a boil. Taste, adding salt if you like.
Serve the grits in shallow bowls topped with the mushrooms, sauce, and a sprinkle of chives.
I've updated the recipe with a range for the cheese and butter in the grits. Use the maximum amount for the authentically decadent version, or the lesser amount for a lighter dish.Sometimes I add wilted spinach or other greens or a poached egg to up the nutritional value too.Adapted from The New York Times Shrimp and Grits.Nutritional values are based on one of six servings.