Grits, cheese, and eggs are a combination utilized most often in the American South, but its satisfying appeal is universal. This casserole needs a really sharp cheddar to amp up the flavor intensity. It's adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook, and, as is noted there, beating the egg whites separately will lighten this dish considerably.
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 large eggs separated
- 2 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
Put a rack in the middle of oven; preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart souffe dish or baking dish.
Bring water and salt to a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove grits from heat and beat in butter with a wooden spoon, then beat in yolks one at a time. Stir in 2 cups Cheddar and cayenne.
Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer until they just hold stiff peaks. Stir one quarter of whites into grits to lighten them, then gently thoroughly fold in remaining whites.
Pour grits into buttered dish and smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Cover with foil; bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; continue to bake until bubbles form around ediges, about 10 minutes more.