A Sunday breakfast. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Now that the kids are back in school and Donna and I are back from travel, life returns to its homey routine. Which happily includes an actual late Sunday morning breakfast. It’s one of the best times to cook and can be one of the most satisfying meals of the week.

First of all, I’ve got to say it loud: GRITS! Grits are fabulous and I can’t tell you how many people taste them and say they can’t believe people don’t eat them more often. Honestly, you should make them a staple (the butter-poached shrimp and grits in Ruhlman’s Twenty is one of my favorite dishes, period). Just be sure to use real grits (instant grits are not grits). I used Bob’s Red Mill here, because my grocery store carries them. But I highly recommend Anson Mills grits. They’re inexpensive and delicious, a little goes a long way, and leftovers are so good that some chefs make grits simply to spread out on a sheet tray where they firm up and can be cut and then sautéed or grilled for a fabulous grit cake.

I highly recommend making this very breakfast. Midway through the paper, put on a second pot of coffee and get the grits started, a third of a cup for two people, and four or five times that amount of water. Keep them on low, throw some bacon in a pan on low and go back to the paper (happily, I’d cured some bacon from the pig Brian and cut up for the Salumi video). Enjoy the smell of bacon and coffee as you read.

To finish the grits, I add a solid four-finger pinch of salt and lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I pour in some half-and-half, and cook them a little harder. I finish them with a chunk of butter. I make sure the bacon is right while I bring a pot of water to a simmer. I crack eggs into ramekins, then pour the eggs into my badass egg spoon so that the fly-away whites can drain off for a perfect poached egg.

I pop some toast into the oven (the above is actually a left over hot dog bun, fabulous). Drop the eggs. Get the bowls, serve the grits and bacon, butter the toast, and then nestle a perfect poached egg into the grits. The yolk, when it spills out, is like a sauce for the grits. Glorious.

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© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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41 Wonderful responses to “Sunday Breakfast—Bacon, Eggs, Grits”

  • Lora in Louisville

    As a true G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Raised In The South) we like Weisenberger Mill grits from Midway, Ky. My Yankee friends call my grits, “Redneck Polenta”, but they sure fill their bellies full when visiting. Thanks Ruhlman, the only thing missing during Sunday breakfast is the Bloody Mary while doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen! 48 hours from now- it’s calling my name.

    • ruhlman

      I was going to mention that Bloody Mary, awesome choice to wash it down with. And like the term redneck polenta, even though grits are a thousand times better than polenta.

  • Abigail Blake

    Glad to see you learned something during your college days in NC. I’m so glad to be back in the States near a steady supply of good grits and real country ham. The grits from The Old Mill in Guilford, NC are very good also and I believe they do mail order. Though I do have to say, the only thing that could make your breakfast even more perfect would be a good Southern biscuit.

    • ruhlman

      yep, introduced to the wonders of grits at Duke in 1985 by classmate who would become a seattle chef, John Neumark

  • Dave Smith

    Michael,
    Grits, Eggs, and Bacon a combo that is glorious and hard to beat.
    For my rendition of that meal I usually start the night before. I start by frying up two pieces of bacon with half an onion, when the bacon is done I pull it and continue to brown the onion until caramelized and wonderful. Then I add the bacon/onions to my rice cooker, add the grits and water, and set the rice cooker to be done in the morning. My eldest son calls this ‘ultimate grits’, we usually pair it with some sunny side up eggs, and the rest of the bacon pack. OH! and don’t forget the coffee, sometimes chicory if we have it ..

    Dave

      • julie

        That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. If I’m cooking grits for the first time, it’d be nice to have an idea of how much salt to add. You might know what your ” 4-finger pinch of salt” is in volume or weight, but depending on how big my hands are and how I “pinch” salt, I could have anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.

        • ruhlman

          salting to taste is never a dumb idea and certainly not the dumbest thing you’ve ever read. But for this recipe, I’m guessing 1.5 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, 1cup half and half and 4 T butter.

        • Ryan

          The more you cook, the you’ll get a feel for roughly how much salt would be needed for something like this. Also, at one point I spent 5 minutes training myself how to pinch 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, and 1 tsp, and I can do it pretty accurately. Of course, we’re talking kosher salt here.

  • Carly

    I’ve never made grits and I’ve rarely eaten them, but still, every time I see good ones, I immediately think that the meal I’m looking at is its ideal version. They just never come to mind when I’m deciding what to cook. (And given that Philly is not exactly grits country, when I do see them on a menu, I’m usually too skeptical to order them.)

  • Amy | Minimally Invasive

    The. Perfect. Breakfast. I think I know what I’ll be serving to our house guests tomorrow morning. It’ll be a Cajun-themed weekend after tonight’s pot of gumbo with creamy potato salad!

  • William

    Grits are one of those wonderfully simple things that just can’t be hurried. Plan on a good half hour to cook them. I’m currently getting stone ground grits from Boonville Mill, 13 miles away. It doesn’t get much more local than that.

  • One Swell Foop

    As someone that moved from the south to the Pac NW and then back again, I can say it drove me bonkers when people tried to tell me that grits and polenta were the same thing, and also when people told me they didn’t like grits. To the first my reply would often be something along the lines of, “You want to be VERY careful how you proceed from here, but let me educate you so you can never say that again.” To the second, my reply was, “Then you haven’t really had grits.”

    On a side note, since places like Anson Mills have gotten so expensive, if you’re passing through North Alabama (or want to buy online), check out McEwen and Sons grits. Cheaper than Anson Mills, every bit as good, and there’s more variety. They do yellow, white, mixed, and blue corn grits, and then yellow, white, and blue corn meal and corn flour.

    We take our grits seriously down here.

  • Carri

    This all looks so delicious, I am not going to wait for breakfast, it might have to be dinner tonight…perfect after a full day of cooking on the line and never remembering to eat! And thanks for promoting the idea people make breakfast at home so we don’t have to cook it for you…the one thing I dislike about my business is having to work on sundays!

  • Mary Beth

    So when are you going to serve us up some scrapple for breakfast? You have the makings of it right there- pig and corn!

  • Allen

    Found your grit pusher:

    http://seattletimes.com/html/pacificnw/2012844447_pacificptaste19.html
    I will have John get me the best steak he can find, will see if I can tell the difference btw “organic” and non. I’ll treat them the same and have some butter poached shrimp on the side. Will seek out some good grits too. My only experience with grits was in the military chow line, and it wasn’t a bad one. Big fan of SOS, or biscuits & gravy too. Just can’t eat them like I used too, they make my clothes get too tight.

  • Tresa

    Since there have been references to grits vs. polenta, and i’ve often heard they’re interchangeable, I’d love to hear your take on why they’re different.

    • Ryan

      They’re the same in the way that all pizza is the same. All pizza is bread with stuff on it; polenta and grits are cornmeal cooked with stuff in it.
      They’re different in the preparation. I’m not an expert, but I like Alton Brown’s grits/polenta show. His breakfast grits are made with milk and cheese. His polenta is made with onions and chicken stock.
      Some would say “true” southern grits are made with hominy, but I like the coarse-ground yellow stuff better.

  • Allen

    Cocktail post sneaked in.
    Just in case one doesn’t get posted, sorry if it does. Delete or disregard this one.

    2 oz. gin
    1 oz sake
    Cucumber slice.

    No name because I’m not sure what you call it, it goes great with raw oysters, Japanese food; teriyaki glazed chicken thighs, sashimi, yakisoba…
    I like Henricks gin, cheap sake and a cucumber sliced on the bias.
    I make a quick pickle with the left over cucumber for a side dish by slicing it and adding it to some rice wine vinegar with crushed red peppers and a little sugar, maybe even a little water to cut the acidity.

    I know about the fine sakes that you drink cold, $50 and up a bottle, but I like the less expensive stuff, even warmed up on a cold day.
    I use a cheap sake ($5.99 for a bottle that comes up to my knee made in Berkley Ca.) or any other cheap one, Ozeki, Momokowa is great. I don’t have a refined palate like you foodies, fried my taste buds with cigarettes a long time ago. I enjoy cheap sake warmed all by itself, soothing on a cold day. Respect the alcohol content of the sake, it’s higher than wine. Don’t make the mistake I did when I was younger, I brought a giant bottle back from Japan and watched Barry Lyndon on VHS on a cold day, by the end of the movie the bottle was half gone and I was in bad shape. I later learned the alcohol content is higher, not lower than wine. Like 19%. Sheesh!

  • allen

    Wife just mentioned today is Sat. Copy & paste for next Fri if M.R. skips out. Im on vaca & forgot what day it was. 2 many tinis!

  • Chris K.

    When I used to cook at a bed & breakfast, I attempted to introduce grit cakes on the menu. Some of our guests responded with a degree of hostility toward this decision that truly surprised me. It was a classic love/hate situation. But when I started calling it polenta the complaints stopped almost completely. Go figure.

    The recipe was classic southern grits with cheddar cheese, with the addition of fresh thyme, black pepper and plenty of salt. Cooled in a sheet pan, cut into squares and fried in bacon fat on a cast-iron griddle. Topped with a few slices of wine-braised smoked sausage, a poached egg, and sauced with tomato gravy.

  • Chris K.

    Hey Ruhlman – speaking of Sunday breakfast – a while back you posted a great article about corned beef, without a mention of hash. What’s the haps?

  • Wilma de Soto

    Home made salmon cakes and grits are a classic; even for dinner with stewed tomatoes.

  • Nina

    Does anyone have a recipe to make grits? I tried following the “general” suggestions but a pinch of this and “some” of that didn’t seem to bring them out of bland. Despite 4 generous finger pinches of salt, what I consider a lot of black pepper, and “some” half and half and butter, they were so bland I couldn’t justify the extra calories to eat them. They just tasted like nothing. How much cream and butter are we talking about in order to give them some flavor?

    • ruhlman

      Nina, sorry to hear that! Do you have Ruhlman’s Twenty? There’s a traditional grits recipe in their that begins with chopped bacon, then onion cooked in the bacon fat, then the grits. Click the link for butter poached shrimp and grits if you don’t. For plain grits I’d add about a teaspoon and a half of salt and a cup of half and a half, and finish with 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter. Also try finding better grits than bob’s, such as the mcewan link above.

  • Durk

    1. Sunday morning breakfast is magical
    2. Grit cakes seared in butter with mushrooms, garlic and cream, or polenta cakes with marinana sauce, spinach, mushrooms and garlic are crazy-good leftovers

  • Andrew

    I took a class this weekend that celebrated everything pork. I have my bacon curing in the fridge right now. To be honest I am not sure it would have been possible without you and Charcuterie. Thanks from Alberta Canada!! The gentleman that put on the workshop posted an excellent video to his website. http://www.kevinkossowan.com/

  • Harry

    I can’t but help think of the movie My Cousin Vinny when discussing grits. Makes me grin every time.

  • J.

    Growing up in Texas, this was a common weekend breakfast (except our eggs were fried, not poached). And on special occasions there was a special addition: biscuits and cream gravy (from the bacon grease). Damn, my mouth is watering now!

  • pat anderson

    You just pinned this — I missed it the first time around. Now I’ve gotta make me some grits and poach an egg on top. I picked up a grits recipe from somewhere that uses a little coconut milk. What do you think? Heresy?
    I may add a slice or two of tomato and some kale instead of the bacon (which I dearly love but don’t have any at the moment). It’ll add some iron and vitamins to the meal.

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