King James Collards & Smoky Grits Cakes

King James Collards & Smoky Grits Cakes

Fresh, farmer’s market collards are sensational when they are cooked with smoked bacon, local honey, and apple cider vinegar — especially the homemade Cider Vinegar from King James Public House on page 199 of Farmer & Chef Asheville.

Makes 4 servings

For grits: 1 1/3 cups water 1 cup half-and-half, heavy cream, or milk

1 cup stone ground grits

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For collards:

2 bunches collard greens, rinsed, stems and ribs removed

1 medium onion diced

4 slices smoked bacon sliced crosswise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

Hot sauce and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare grits: Bring water and half-and-half to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits and salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until thick and tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter, and pepper, Line a 9-inch square baking pan with a strip of parchment paper, extending up 2 sides of pan. Pour grits into pan. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours or up to overnight.

Prepare collards: Stack leaves and slice. Cook onion and bacon in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture is browned evenly but not caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Add collards; stir and cook to slightly wilt. Add vinegar, honey, and salt; bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the collards are just tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and season with hot sauce and additional salt, if desired. Keep warm. To fry grits, heat 2 inches oil in a large, heavy skillet to 350°. Cut grits into squares or circles with a biscuit cutter; dust with flour, and fry until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side. Arrange fried grits on servings plates; spoon collards on top. Serve with ham.

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