This side dish pairs well with fried chicken or grilled pork and shrimp.

Bacon Cheddar Grits


4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup quick-cooking grits
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup plus another 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (2.5 ounces)


1. In a medium saucepan, cook 4 slices finely chopped bacon, and 1 jalepeno (optional), finely chopped, over medium, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon and jalapeno (if using) to a small bowl. Remove pan from heat and carefully add 4 1/2 cups water (fat may sputter).

2. Bring liquid to a boil over high and whisk in 1 cup quick-cooking grits. Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, 25 minutes or until creamy. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Whisk in 1 cup grated sharp cheddar (2.5 ounces) and three-fourths the bacon mixture. Pour into a 2-quart serving dish and top with 1/2 cup cheddar (1.5 ounces) and remaining bacon mixture. Serves 4.

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