Sara Foster, owner of the Foster's Market stores of North Carolina, considers this savory grits souffle one of her specialties.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 4-quart souffle dish with 2 tablespoons butter; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil; add 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium, and gradually add grits in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. Cook, stirring, until grits have thickened, about 10 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups milk, and cook, stirring, until milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes more.
Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, 6 tablespoons butter, and the sugar until well combined.
Add cheese, red pepper, jalapeno, corn, eggs, thyme, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper, and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared souffle dish, and bake until the souffle has risen and is firm around the edges but the center is still slightly soft, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm.