Classic Southern Cheese Straws
Serves 15 to 20
Cooks in 50 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
Hands On Time:
2 large red bell peppers
1 poblano pepper, stems and seeds removed
2 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds removed
1 habanero pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stone-ground grits
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
3 cups panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
To make the pepper jelly:
In a food processor, combine all peppers and pulse until finely minced. Strain away any liquid and transfer minced peppers to a medium saucepan.
Add sugar, vinegar and salt and simmer on medium heat until syrupy enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
To make the grits:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick pan spray.
In a medium saucepan, bring water and cream to a boil over medium-high heat, and season with salt and black pepper.
Whisk in grits, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until the mixture is creamy and the grits have cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.
Add butter and cheese and stir until butter is melted. Transfer grits to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until cooled, at least 4 hours.
To make the fritters:
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Alternatively, heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer following the manufacturer’s directions.
Line a large plate with paper towels. While the oil is heating, form cooled grits into golf ball-shaped balls, flatten the dough, then stuff the center of each ball with shredded cheese.
In a small baking dish, whisk together eggs and water. In a separate baking dish, season bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Roll each ball in egg wash, then completely coat each ball with the seasoned bread crumbs.
Fry in batches until golden brown and cheese has melted in the center, about 5 minutes, and drain on prepared plate.
Serve hot with pepper jelly.
Photo credit: Ramona King
To make the pepper jelly:
This recipe is perfect for leftover grits. Cooled grits are can be formed into a ball shaped fritters and stuffed with cheese. Hot pepper jelly is a great savory complement to the cheesy grit fritters.
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