It’s Hatch Chile season in Austin Texas which means one thing. Eat as many as you can right now and as the season winds down build a big fire in the backyard and roast 15 pounds to put up in the freezer.

Earlier this year I was passing through Madisonville, Tennessee the home of Benton’s Country Hams. Owner Alan Benton doesn’t just sell cured hog meat though. He also sells some very fine stone ground grits from Falls Mill in Belvidere Tennessee. I ran out of time getting to Benton’s store before they closed so I called them up and started begging. The gal on the phone took pity on the tired Texan and agreed to sit in the parking lot and wait on me as I put the hammer down from Chattanooga.

She sat there for an hour.

By the time I extracted myself from the clutches of a smokey bear and rolled into the parking lot she was a mite riled up.

I simmered her down with a family pack of kolaches from Weikel’s Bakery down in LaGrange, Texas. We did the deal and I left the parking lot with a big load of cured meat and grits.

Here’s my recipe for Stone Ground Grits with Hatch Chiles, White Cheddar and Benton’s Country Ham


1 c. Grits, Stone Ground

8 each Chiles, Hatch, roasted and chopped

4 oz Ham, cured, shredded

2 oz Cheese, cheddar, white, good provider

2 oz, Butter, from a well tended cow

½ c. Cream, heavy, whipping


* Fill mixing bowl with cold water

* Add grits, let sit 5 minutes

* Pour off “chaff” and water carefully [the chaff is what will float to the top,crucial step]

* Pour grits into sauce pan

* Add two cups water

* Bring to boil

* Reduce heat, simmer for 15 minutes

* Add cream, simmer 10 minutes more

* Add butter, cheese, ham and chiles

* Combine thoroughly

* Let sit 5 minutes


Your Tenn-Mex dish is complete

Serve as a side dish with fried chicken, meatloaf, fried catfish etc

You may also serve this as a one course meal

I’ve been eating grits since I was a toddler and this is the best grits recipe I’ve ever sampled. The fiery chiles, the salty ham and the cream/butter combo make a bowl of food that is insanely delicious.

I hope y’all enjoy this dish as much as I do.

More southern recipes here

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