Prepackaged wild mushroom blends are available in many grocery stores but you can assemble your own blend from whatever is available—shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, button mushrooms—even dried mushrooms (strain the soaking liquid and use it to cook the grits). Feel free to improvise. Add more mushrooms than the recipe calls for. Trade out Gruyere cheese for Swiss or Jarlsberg.
The earthy flavor of this dish makes it a nice match with grilled pork chops or roast chicken. Or, take the cue from risotto and serve it as a hearty main course along with a crisp arugula salad tossed with tangy vinaigrette.
Makes about 3½ cups | Cooking time: About 1 hour, including simmering the grits
Prepare the grits following the recipe for Basic Stovetop Grits. For the cooking liquid, we suggest a 50/50 combination of milk and low sodium chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth. (For info about different cooking liquids, check out Grits Basics: 5 Tips to Make Perfect Stone Ground Grits.)
In a heatproof bowl or serving dish, combine the warm cooked grits with the cream and Gruyere cheese. Cover the bowl with a lid or foil and keep the grits warm while prepare the mushrooms.
In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the white pepper. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots are translucent—1 to 2 minutes. Add the thyme and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the wine then simmer the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender. Note: You may need to add more liquid and simmer a few moments, depending on the mushrooms you're using.
Fold the mushroom mixture into the grits. Taste for seasoning—you may need more salt. If too thick, add a splash of water. If the grits have cooled down too much, reheat them in the microwave. Top with freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of fresh thyme, if you like.
If you aren't ready to serve your grits immediately, check out our 5 Tips to Keep Grits Warm.