Grits with Sweet Potato and Bacon

2016-01-11 16.54.12RECIPE #161, DAY #198

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Creamy Cheesy Corn Grits for All Seasons: Fall,” from Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day*

TIMING: 1 hour

DIFFICULTY: Not really advanced, but not as easy as some meals

TOOLS: A large whisk and other basic things

COOK TYPE: Stovetop (and oven if you roast your bacon like I do)

HEALTH: This is a pretty hearty, healthy meal for a cold, overwhelmed day. Yes, it has bacon, but there is a lot of goodness in the sweet potatoes, grits, herbs, and even the blue cheese. It would pair nicely with a salad, as well, or even a bowl of greens. In fact, technically, this is probably best as a breakfast or a side dish, but who wouldn’t feel happy sinking into this bowl of elevated mush at the end of a hard day?

2016-01-11 16.54.19EXPERIENCE: As I have said before, I am always looking out for more ways to incorporate cornmeal into our diet. It’s a quick grain, whole and healthy, and we come by large quantities cheaply. Plus we are Southerners. So when I needed a cornmeal dinner one night, I found this one in my spreadsheet.

We are lucky to live in Durham, where Sara Foster’s Foster’s Market is located (and also another one in Chapel Hill). The food is great, the atmosphere great, and I could die happy after the Caesar salad. (For all its simplicity, it is utterly addictive.) So I have a number of Foster’s recipes in my collection, and eventually I will buy the book.

I loved the idea of tricking these grits out according to the season. Then I loved these grits. It was hearty and homey and extremely filling. Other people in the family like it okay, just without the blue cheese.

NOTES: I am aware the not everyone loves blue cheese. My husband and son simply left the cheese off their portions, while I stirred mine into the hot grits.

I use a local, coarse-ground cornmeal for all my corny needs: cornmeal, grits, and polenta. It works fine, and it is what it is. There are those who would call me sacrifoodieous.

Some people like their grits firmer, others looser. Cook to your taste, but know that they will firm up a bit off the heat.

You can also sub winter squash for the sweet potato. I had to.


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cook 12-16 ounces bacon how you cook bacon. I roast mine. Set aside.
  3. On a sheet pan, place 1 diced, peeled sweet potato and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon minced rosemary, and a hefty pinch of salt. Toss and bake for 30-40 minutes, until browned and chewy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan (preferably heavy-bottomed), bring 3 cups water to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in 2 teaspoons salt, then whisk in–in a stream–1 cup grits (or a course-ground cornmeal).
  5. Keep whisking frequently until grits are tender and still a little soupy. This can take 10 minutes or 40 minutes, but if it goes too fast, you want to check the texture and consider adding more water.
  6. Whisk in 1 cup milk and 1 cup frozen corn. Cook until it returns to its previous consistency.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 cup grated Parmesan. Taste for salt and pepper and consistency. If grits are too stiff, add milk.
  8. Serve grits right away topped with sweet potatoes, bacon (most likely crumbled), and crumbled blue cheese.

Serve with sparkling cider and a winter greens salad.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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