Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dinner and a DVD (WCC)- "How do you like your grits?"

When I saw that Paige over at Chef-girl was hosting WCC and her theme was Dinner and a DVD, I knew right away what movie I wanted to feature. It is one of my family's favorite movies, one that you can see over and over again, and still it makes you laugh - My Cousin Vinny. While it does have some raw language, my kids understand that there is "movie language" and "our language", and if you are really concerned, a family friendly version can be caught on TBS or ABC Family from time to time. And this movie is a classic comedy based on the cultural differences that can occur right here in our own country, classic fish out of water comedy.

There are so many hilarious moments in this movie - the famous interaction between the Judge (The Munsters' Fred Gwynne) and Vinny (Joe Pesci) when Vinny asks about the "two yutes" seen leaving the scene of the crime, to Marisa Tomei's insistence on finding good Chinese food in backwoods Alabama, to to comedy of misunderstandings that occur when Attorney Vinny first meets Billy Gambini's friend Stan Rothenstein in their jail cell. It is easy to see how Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for her performance in this movie, since she is touching and hilarious all at the same time!

But what does this movie have to do with food? Well, one of my favorite scenes is when Vinny and girlfriend Lisa go to a local diner for breakfast. They look at the menu only to find the choices are Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Then there is their culture shock when they try to find out what the white substance on their plate is (grits). That scene is the inspiration for my entry- I made Breakfast a la Vinny Gambini by way of Ala- f-ing- bama (Vinny' words, not mine).

I pulled a recipe for grits from my Entertaining on the Run cookbook by Marlene Sorosky, a really great go-to cookbook with ideas for events for everything from kids' birthday parties to Sunday football suppers to elegant company meals. I have made many dishes from this cookbook, and they have all been big hits. I did tweak the recipe a bit adding some chopped sauteed onions and bacon bits and some prepared con queso sauce.

If you are a Northerner, or otherwise not knowledgeable about grits, you can either watch the diner cook explain to Vinny what they are or check out the Wikipedia entry on grits. Suffice it to say they are very similar to polenta, and are versatile as a side dish.

Breakfast consisted of cheese grits, eggs over easy, and bacon, much like what Vinny and Lisa ate in the Beechum County diner. However, in deference to Vinny's concern in the movie of the "ongoing cholesterol problem in our country" (when he sees the diner cook putting a fist-sized blob of lard onto the griddle), I used turkey bacon.

My Cousin Vinny's Cheesy Breakfast Grits

1/2 medium onion chopped
2 cups chicken boullion
1 cup quick grits (not instant)
2 tablespoons Goya Cilantro Sauce (My husband bought this without knowing what to do with it, but we love ethnic ingredients and it added a great taste to the grits)
2 tablespoons Con queso sauce (I know, its a cop-out but delicious and easy!)
2 slices bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter

Two tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional)- Note: we are adding this as much as possible to boost fiber and raise the "good" cholesterol- and it adds a nice texture without masking the existing flavors of a dish- great to add to cereal, pancake batter, etc.

Put butter in pan, add onions and cilantro sauce, stir until onions are soft and then add chicken boullion. Bring mixture to boil and stir in grits, lower heat and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in con queso sauce and bacon bits until smooth and cheesy. Serve with breakfast meat and eggs for a real southern meal.

Note: Grits are very versatile, you could also serve these with shrimp for dinner or with barbecue or roasted chicken. Also you could mix in a couple of eggs, put in a greased casserole, top with cheese and bake for a side dish casserole or a delicious breakfast casserole.


The Cooking Ninja said...

Great entry :) Mine was American Pie ;)

Sara said...

Deborah, that is so great, I haven't seen that movie in ages! You can't buy grits here, but I do have some that someone brought me from the US. They are instant though. So they wouldn't work in this recipe?
Thanks for taking part in WCC!

Deborah Dowd said...

Ninja- Thanks- I never saw the American Pie movie, but I lived the song (and your recipe too)!

Sara- I think you could make it work if you saute the onions seperately, reconstitute the grits with warm chicken broth, and then mix the onions grits and cheese together! It's worth a try!

ArkAngels for Russian Orphans said...

I grew up in the north and didn't think I liked grits until I was well into my 30s. I got this recipe from a southern friend who serves it as a side dish at Thanksgiving. But I also like to make it ahead and serve it reheated with breakfast (and you can make it with instant grits!).

Baked Grits
1 cup prepared grits (two servings, prepared according to package directions)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together everything except Parmesan. Spray baking dish with cooking spray and pour grits mixture into casserole. Top with Parmesan, if using. Bake until set and golden on top, about one hour.
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Deborah Dowd said...

Lisa- A converted Northerner! Just what we Virginians like to see. Grits are nothing more than down-home polenta!

Mansi Desai said...

Hi Deb, hop my blog stood up to your Fun and Food standards!:)

I haven't seen the movie, but I love the idea!! And i like the way you write:)

will be back for more play-with-food

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Great blog.
I added you to my Technorati Favourites.
Greetings, Margot