1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
2 teaspoonsvegetable oil
1/2 cup small-dice, fully cooked ham (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup white or yellow grits (not instant)
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium scallion
Hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tabasco
When Hank Williams Jr. sang, “I don’t want no little ol’ Danish rolls. I must have ham and grits,” he was talking about the rib-sticking appeal of creamy grits and sautéed ham for breakfast. In our version we also throw in some cheddar cheese and a few dashes of hot sauce for a speedy yet filling meal.
Game plan: To simplify your prep time, shred the cheese and dice the ham the night before. If you have preshredded cheddar, you will need about 3/4 cup.
What to buy: You can find fully cooked or smoked ham steaks in the deli case of any well-stocked grocery store.
1Combine the water, milk, butter, and measured salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
3Whisk the grits into the simmering milk mixture and bring to a boil. Continue to boil without stirring for 1 minute. Cover with a tightfitting lid, remove the pan from the heat, and let sit until the grits are tender, about 7 minutes.
4Meanwhile, shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater (you should have about 3/4 cup). Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the scallion; set aside.
5When the grits are ready, uncover and stir them to incorporate all of the liquid; stir until the grits are smooth. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the cheese and stir until combined and melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
6Divide the grits between 2 bowls and sprinkle with the remaining third of the cheese. Top with the reserved ham and scallions and add a few dashes of hot sauce. Serve immediately.