One of the things I love most about my job is travelling to small town America. There are a lot of those tiny podunk towns in Oklahoma that reek of character and history. I love it.
Driving all over the state is definitely a big part of my job, but storm chasing plays an even bigger role. You’ll drive through unincorporated towns flecked with rundown buildings, old post offices, and gas stations you didn’t even know existed anymore.
I love driving through the farming countryside, especially on storm chase days. Having wheat fields backlit by dark storm clouds is one of the most beautiful sights to behold, in my opinion. The thrill of the chase is enhanced by wandering through small towns that are just begging to be photographed.
No tornadoes were caught by my camera this week, but I did have quite a bit of fun travelling to those far flung parts of the state. I also snapped a couple of good picture of great storm formations, like this one:
Inspired by all of the lovely Midwestern towns I traipsed through this week, I decided to make a homey recipe for dinner. Nothing screams southern food more than grits—and adding barbecue to grits is just the icing on the proverbial coconut cream cake.
I’m not sure where this recipe comes from, but I found it in the back of one of my recipe boxes. Of course, I added my own flair to it and adapted it quite a bit. My mom used to make these cheesy, green chile baked grits for Christmas, so I decided I would basically do the same for this recipe.
Now, I do have a confession to make.
I don’t like grits.
I know, I know. It’s weird. I lived in Texas for a long time and grits were a way of life. I just have never liked the stuff. Every time my mom would make them instead of hashbrowns for breakfast I would sigh and eat my eggs in a morose state of mind.
Why did you decide to make them then? You may be asking yourself.
Well, you see—-I don’t like regular breakfast grits. You know, the soupy stuff that people slather butter on. Baked grits, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. Baked grits are more firm and have a better texture and flavor, in my opinion. It’s basically polenta, and I love polenta.
So, I set out to make some nice firm cheesy grits and shredded barbecue chicken. I added about a metric ton of cheese, topped my plate with a nice helping of pico de gallo (Texas way of life, remember?) and chowed down.
I was shocked. It was the best thing I cooked all week.
I’ve made shrimp and grits before and it was absolutely disgusting. But this—this—was phenomenal. I attribute it all to the grits being baked—and the metric ton of cheese.
Everything is better with cheese.
BBQ Chicken & Cheesy Chile Grits
Shredded barbecue chicken served atop cheesy green chile grits, topped with pico and sliced green onions.
- 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking corn grits
- 2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 3 TBS. butter
- 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- Pico de gallo & green onions, for topping
- Cook grits according to package instructions. Once done, remove from heat and stir in pepper jack cheese, butter, and green chiles. Stir until melted and smooth.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large 13×9″ baking dish. Pour cheese grits into dish and smooth out.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken breast and cook until browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes per side. Let chicken cool and then shred with two forks or with a stand mixer paddle attachment.
- Add BBQ sauce to shredded chicken and toss to coat. Spoon chicken mixture over grits and sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Top with pico de gallo and green onions and serve.
Cook grits according to package instructions. Remove from heat.
Stir in pepper jack cheese, butter, and green chiles. Stir until melted and smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large 13×9″ baking dish. Pour cheesy grits into baking dish and smooth out.
Meanwhile, heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes per side. Let chicken cool.
Using either two fork or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, shred cooled chicken. Add BBQ sauce and toss to coat.
Spoon chicken mixture over cheese grits. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top of chicken.
Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
Top with pico de gallo and sliced green onions and serve.