Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waffling Leftovers: Cheesy Grits

By now, you know the drill.  I love to take leftovers and stick them in my waffle iron, to varying levels of success.  

So far, I've told you about my ventures with Italian food main dishes (pizza, lasagna, etc) and with assorted casseroles (mac and cheese, tuna noodle, etc).  You can read about all my trials here.

Now, we move to side dishes, starting with cheesy grits.

Cheesy grits was an interesting one for me, because I adore cheesy grits ... when they are fresh.  But every time I've tried to save grits, I've never been able to really do them justice when re-heating the next day.  I've tried many techniques, on the stovetop with some extra milk added in, baked in the oven, etc, but, short of deep frying, nothing has really worked.

Until now.  It turns out, leftover grits waffle beautifully.  Will it waffle?  YES YES YES.  Grits, even more than pizza, are my biggest success story.

Before this experiment, even I, the girl who saves everything, felt that leftover polenta and grits were rarely worth saving.  I’ll never throw them out again. This was incredible, and I look forward to making it again.
Leftover Cheesy Grits.
Grits is probably the most simple thing I have tried to waffle.  I started with unattractive leftover cheesy grits, loaded up with butter, cream, burrata, and mascarpone. The grits were creamy and tasty enough originally, but leftover, it was just a solid blob.  It didn’t look very good.  Leftover grits never reheat very well, but I'm incapable of throwing things out.  I had no expectations this would work.

I didn’t bother crust the grits.  I didn’t bother add anything to them.  I just stuck a chunk in and walked away for a few minutes.  I mostly considered this a research experiment, and figured I'd likely even throw the results out.

I returned to find something that blew me away.
Waffled Grits: Success!
I declare this my biggest success so far.   Better than the pizza.  Better than the mac and cheese.  The transformation was incredible.

The outside was perfectly crispy, due to the high fat content I’m sure.  The best crust I've achieved so far.   Inside was gooey and moist.  The cheesy flavor was delicious.

I devoured the grits-waffle plain, but I think it would be tasty taken a sweet route and drizzled with some maple syrup.  Or turned into a breakfast with an egg on top.  Or even made savory with another kind of sauce.  But honestly, it was complete enough just plain, and I loved it.

Leftover Cheesy Grits #2.
A few months later, I took my own advice and saved more grits.   Yup, another lump of leftover, totally unappetizing, rock solid, cheesy grits.

I eagerly cut off a chunk and stuck it into the waffle iron.  Seriously, so easy.  Easiest item to waffle so far, no crusting required, really easy to just insert into the waffle iron as a solid mass.  The same is true once it cooks, I haven't ever had any issues with grits coming apart.  So, as unappealing as they look, the clumpy mass really does work well for waffling.
Waffled Cheesy Grits Success #2.
And again, the cheesy grits waffled like a charm.  I did leave them in a bit too long (or, perhaps 350 degrees was a bit too hot), as the outside got a bit darker than I would have wanted ideally.

But, besides that error on my part, this was fantastic.  Super crusty outside for a great crunch and structural integrity, yet moist and fluffy inside.  Easy-peasy.


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