- 1/4 pound bacon, chopped
- 1/4 pound tasso, chopped
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 pint oysters, drained, 1/2 cup liquor reserved, and cut in 1/2 if large
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup regular grits (not instant)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese, garnish
- Chopped chives, garnish
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tasso and cook until the bacon is brown and the fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Drain off all the fat but 2 tablespoons. Add the onions and bell peppers to the fat in the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, salt, cayenne, and herbs, cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the 1/2 cup of the reserved oyster liquor and the milk, and bring to a boil. Slowly add the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits have absorbed the liquid and are plump, 30 to 45 minutes (or up to an hour if using stone-ground grits). You may need to add some water if the grits get too thick before they are tender. Once the grits are tender and the right consistency, add the cream, oysters, and reserved bacon and tasso, and stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the edges of the oysters curl and the additional liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Spoon into individual cast-iron skillets or into a large casserole dish to serve tableside. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, garnish with chopped chives, and serve.