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Cheesy Ham, Corn, and Grits Bake

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunnigham

Active time 25 mins
Total time 1 hr, 15 mins
Yield

Serves 8 (serving size: about 2 cups)

This impressive-looking casserole bakes up puffy and golden with pockets of fresh corn and savory ham. Think of it as a soufflé without the work. If fresh corn isn't in season, use frozen corn. While using two types of Cheddar cheese might seem fussy, it's not. The extra-sharp adds more tang and the sharp Cheddar cheese balances this. And, hey, more cheese, less problems. Right?   

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked yellow stone-ground grits
  • 2 (8-oz.) pkg. cubed boneless ham, drained and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

How to Make It

  1. Lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish. Preheat oven to 350°F.

    What's So Great About Grits?
  2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium; stir in onion and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water and salt, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Whisk in grits, and stir in ham; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened and grits are almost tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; add both cheeses, stirring until completely melted. Stir in milk, corn, thyme, pepper, and eggs. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until golden and cooked through, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.