This recipe was featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2004.

Grits cakes

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1/2 medium yellow or white onion
1 tablespoon (15g) olive oil
3 ounces (100g) regular or instant grits
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) water
2 ounces Gruyere cheese


1. Chop the onion coarsely - it should be enough to make about 1/4 cup - and sautee in the olive oil until golden brown and sweet. Grate the cheese, freely substituting any cheese of your liking.

2. Make the grits according to package instructions. I used three 1-ounce packets of instant grits, a project that required no more effort than bringing 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then stirring same into the grits in a saucepan. Regular grits or polenta will require longer simmering and stirring.

3. Over very low heat, add the caramelized onions and the cheese to the grits, stirring until the cheese is fully incorporated. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. If you're inspired to try other herbs and spices, now's the time to let your imagination do its work.

4. Lightly grease a couple of small bowls with olive oil, and pour half the grits mixture into each. Allow to cool and thicken, then gently remove from the bowls and plate them as a base for your main course. (As another experimental approach, you might try sauteeing the rounds in a nonstick skillet or running them under a broiler, but this step didn't seem necessary.)

WINE MATCH: Chances are you won't be eating the grits cakes alone, in which case you'll want to match your wine to the primary ingredient; we paired the accompanying Grimaud Farms Muscovy duck breast with an excellent, Rhone-style California red, Edmunds St. John 2000 "Los Robles Viejos." If you did want to match a wine directly with this particular grits-cake recipe, I would go with a sharply acidic white - maybe a Swiss Chasselas to greet the Gruyere - or perhaps a full-bodied Champagne.