Eggs Poached in Milk Over Cheese Grits

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Inspired by all the spicy, cheesy, and otherwise exceptional grits I ate at the Southern Foodways Alliance gathering last weekend, I couldn't resist cooking some grits when I got home. A sack of Anson Mills stone-ground yellow grits had been sitting in the back of my pantry for years. You have to simmer these grits for hours, so if you think of making them at breakfast time, it's already too late.

A few nights ago, I planned ahead. I mixed a half a cup of grits with enough water and milk to fill a small crockpot and turned it on before I went to bed. The next morning, when I woke up, the grits looked as thick as pudding. To flavor them, I minced a half an onion and half a red bell pepper and sautéed the lot of it in a couple tablespoons of butter. Then I poured the buttery mixture into the crockpot and added salt, pepper and a teaspoon of garlic powder and let it simmer some more.

When I was ready to serve breakfast, I fried some bacon and stirred a cup of grated cheese (a mix of gouda, cheddar and Italian hard cheese) into the grits and stirred until it melted. Then I poached some eggs in milk.

A Southern gentleman who I knew in my youth always insisted that his eggs be poached in milk. I thought it was just an eccentricity until I tried it one day. When you poach eggs in water, the whites tend to separate. The usual solution is to add a little vinegar to the water. Hot milk has the same effect on eggs for some reason. And I like the flavor of milk better than vinegar water on top my cheese grits.

I filled a bowl with grits and spooned the eggs over top. I added a dash of Tabasco for spice, just before I dug in. It was one hell of a breakfast. - Robb Walsh

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