This side dish pairs well with fried chicken or grilled pork and shrimp.
- 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup plus another 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (2.5 ounces)
In a medium saucepan, cook 4 slices finely chopped, and 1 (optional), finely chopped, over medium, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon and jalapeno (if using) to a small bowl. Remove pan from heat and carefully add 4 1/2 cups water (fat may sputter).
Bring liquid to a boil over high and whisk in 1 cup Whisk until mixture begins to thicken, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, 25 minutes or until creamy. Season with and Whisk in 1 cup grated (2.5 ounces) and three-fourths the bacon mixture. Pour into a 2-quart serving dish and top with 1/2 cup cheddar (1.5 ounces) and remaining bacon mixture.