These warm and delicious jalapeño cheddar cheese grits were inspired by a recent trip to a trendy new restaurant in Maryland.
Trending in Maryland: Jalapenõ Cheddar Cheese Grits!
Our family of four traveled down south to spend New Year’s visiting my dad’s side of the family this year. For New Year’s Eve, we all roamed around the streets of downtown Annapolis, my hometown. It was literally a walk down memory lane as we walked past my old elementary school, my mom’s old travel agency, and several of the places the Mr. and I went on dates in our 20s.
The New Year’s Eve activities included the same magic show I remember seeing when I was little and it seemed to be just as fascinating to my own kids as it was to me. After the show we walked around and took in all the things I remembered about home.
Oh, Maryland. You have such great food!
The smell of the Chesapeake Bay was the same and the smells of fresh seafood drifted out of some of the same and some new restaurants along the harbor.
We ended up eating crab cakes among other goodies at the kid-friendly Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs, which did not disappoint.
However, it wasn’t crabs or even seafood this trip that I was inspired by. It was a simple side dish. The simple, cheesy jalapeño grits that came with our main entry were really a unexpected treat!
Cheesy Jalapeno Grits – A Hidden Gem of a Side Dish
My new favorite side dish was discovered New Year’s day when our whole family headed to a place only the locals would likely know, Severna Park. There’s a great little new restaurant there with a hip name of course, Park Tavern. I fell in love with their cheesy jalapeño grits as well as their cast iron serving ware.
As soon as we returned home to PA, not only was I determined to recreate the kickin’ grits side dish, I was on a mission to find some individually sized cast iron pots to serve them in.
Of course, Amazon had them. <– Um, what don’t they have?
Keep it simple (stupid).
While my first attempts at researching recipes and recreating these grits was absolutely awful (nixed onions, garlic and chicken broth), I finally learned to keep it simple and landed on this delightfully easy recipe.
Good reminder for future recipe recreation: Start simple and you can always add flavor. You can’t take flavor away. 😉
What to Serve with Cheese Grits
Grits are so versatile you can enjoy them for any meal from breakfast to dinner. Here are a few topping ideas:
- Slow cooked meats – tender pieces of beef or pork along with some juices, go great served right on top of these grits
- For breakfast, try a poached egg along with pico de gallo, avocado slices, and/or corn for a Mexican style dish that goes well with the jalapeño.
- These cheesy grits are also great topped with sausage — try chorizo and kielbasa or go with a turkey sausage for a lighter take.
- Try these topped with seafood! Shrimp is a popular topping with grits along with your favorite sauce. Usually you want a bit of sauce as well, in this case barbecue sauce is a great choice.
- Try bacon bits, sour cream, chives and more cheddar cheese for a flavor similar to a loaded baked potato.
Want some more side dish ideas?
Browse all my side dish recipes.
These cheesy jalapeño grits were featured on Full Plate Thursday!
Jalapeño Cheddar Cheese Grits
- 1 cup quick grits
- 4 cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1 green onion sliced
- Place whole jalapeños on a foil-lined, mini baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes. Flip and broil for an additional 5 minutes. Immediately place in a zip-lock bag and let "steam" for about 5 minutes.
- Bring salted water to a rolling boil. Stir in grits then cover and reduce heat to medium/low. Let cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove jalapeños from bag and skin should peel off easily. Once skin is remove, cut and deseed. Dice roasted jalapeños and then smash with your knife.
- Stir roasted jalapeños and cheese into cooked grits. Serve topped with sliced green onions.