Grits, a Southern breakfast staple made from coarsely ground corn, are usually served mixed with butter, salt and pepper. Clever cooks, however, know that cheese is the addition that brings out the full potential of grits, turning them from a somewhat bland side dish into a rich, creamy main course. Cooking cheese grits overnight in a slow cooker means you have a hearty breakfast ready to eat as soon as you wake up, or in time to serve up with your coffee and bacon. Provided you have a big enough slow cooker, it also simplifies making grits for a crowd.
For every four servings of cheese grits that you want to make, stir together 1 cup grits and 3 cups water in a slow cooker. For four to eight servings, use a 3-quart cooker; for eight to 12 servings, use a 4-quart cooker; and for 12 to 20 servings, use a 6-quart cooker. If you're going to be making more than 20 servings, you'll have to use more than one slow cooker.
Allow the grits to settle to the bottom of the vessel, then skim off any remaining chaff floating on top with a fine mesh strainer.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the grits on low for six to eight hours, or overnight. Alternatively, you can cook them on high for two to three hours, stirring halfway through the cooking time. The grits are done when they are creamy and you can stir them without revealing any pockets of water.
Approximately 30 minutes before serving, stir in butter and cheese to taste. Replace the lid and allow the cheese to melt into the grits. You might try cheddar, Parmesan or Gouda for their flavor and melting potential. Stir again before serving. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Saute chopped onions and garlic and add them to the grits along with the grated cheese for a savory bowl of cheese grits. For richer grits, replace 1 cup of water with heavy cream for every four servings of cheese grits. For spicier grits, add Monterey Jack cheese and canned green chilies. Fill your slow cooker no more than two-thirds full for the best results.