Country Comfort Food

Southern Recipes that will make your heart sing

Fully Loaded Macaroni and Cheese - by

Friends in Chicago are astonished I don’t like corn. “But you’re from the South,” they cry, referring to North Missouri and the Kansas City area. Everybody in Chicago thinks I’m from the South and that my slight twang is deep southern. And since my kinfolk originally come from Kentucky, which really is the South, not liking corn is especially an abomination.

So I had to come up with a variation I could like. Cornbread is okay, and maybe soup with about ten percent corn. I don’t like grits because they’re runny and the only acceptable runny dish for me is oatmeal. I decided to bake the grits–and doll it up with some extras. Here are grits anyone can like!

Grizzly Grits

Grits- Representational Image Wikimedia Commons
Grits- Representational Image
Wikimedia Commons
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, heavy skillet, fry bacon. When done, set bacon slices aside. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons bacon grease. Place onion in pan and sauté until golden brown, about 10-15 min. Remove cooked onions and set aside.

In the same skillet, put milk, butter, and salt. Heat to bubbling (almost boiling), stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Sprinkle one-fourth of grits into mixture, stirring constantly. Continue adding grits, 1/4 cup at a time, and stirring. Constantly stir until mixture becomes thick and bubbling. Remove from heat. Stir in bacon, onion, and 1 cup of the grated Swiss cheese.

Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Spread cooked grit mixture evenly into pan, then sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

Leftovers note: If you have leftovers the next day (store in the refrigerator), make “fried” Grizzly Grits. Cut the baked grits into inch-size cubes. Place butter in a heavy skillet and heat till warm. Sauté each chunk on every side to get a brown crispy crust.

Fried Potato Casserole


Here’s a fancy twist on fried ‘taters–it can be just that, or a fried-potato casserole. Both ways to make this are included here. You need a heavy skillet (at least a 12-inch skillet) with a well-fitting lid because these ‘taters are fried differently. If you use a smaller skillet, halve the recipe. This is colorful and brings out the taste and texture of different types of ‘taters.

Yes, I like to write and speak “taters,” just like I enjoy the word “termaters.”

Fried Potato Casserole

…or just Fried Potatoes

  • 1 med. white or yellow onion
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 5 med. Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 26-28 small purple potatoes (approx. 1 lb.)
  • 1 med. sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper

Chop the onion finely and set aside. Scrub all potatoes, but do not peel. Cut all into approx. 3/4-inch cubes. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Spread oil to make sure skillet is well-coated. Cook onion approx. 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add potatoes, stir thoroughly to coat all with oil. Place on a well-fitting cover and cook 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

If you’re having fried potatoes, that’s it. Just add more salt and pepper to taste. You can drizzle extra olive oil if you like, as the original frying oil will not have retained that olive oil taste.

If you want a fried-potato casserole, remove the skillet from the heat and proceed…

Make the Taters Into Casserole

Roasted 'taters - by rfduck
Roasted ‘taters – by rfduck
  • 3 cups half-and-half, used separately
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated gouda cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, place 2 1/2 cups of the half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Take the other 1/2 cup of half-and-half and mix it with the flour in a cup, stirring thoroughly to remove all lumps. Add to sauce and stir. Cook on medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When sauce steams constantly, add grated cheeses one item at a time, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth and bubbles. Turn off heat.

Scoop fried potatoes (from above recipe) from skillet into a very large bowl (not plastic). Pour sauce over potatoes and gently stir until well-mixed. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake covered for approx. 30 minutes. When finished, casserole should be creamy but not runny. If eating immediately, let casserole rest at least 5 minutes before serving. If taking to an event and eating later, let cool 30-45 min., and then place in refrigerator. Reheat covered at 300 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

Fried Apples ‘n’ Onions

While many of us read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as children, all but one of them is girl-oriented. Boys will remember Farmer Boy, her second novel, published in 1933. Her original intent was to write one book, Little House in the Big Woods.

But it was such a bestseller that follow-ups were called for. In Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder recollected the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder. Clearly, the Wilder family, of Malone, New York, had it better than the Ingallses, who were practically tearing weeds out of the ground just to eat.

At Christmas dinner, the Wilders had roast pig, roast goose, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed turnips, baked squash, fried parsnips, fried apples ‘n’ onions, candied carrots, pumpkin pie, cream pie, mincemeat pie, and fruitcake. Whew!

I recognized all of the other foods on that list, but thought, “What the heck is fried apples ‘n’ onions?” Curiosity might have killed the cat, but curiosity fed the cook.

Fried Apples ‘n’ Onions

Representational Image
Representational Image
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 6 medium onions, peeled, sliced and separated into rings
  • 6 medium tart apples, cored and cut into half-inch slices (do not peel)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Put bacon grease in a medium-large heavy skillet (one that has a well-fitting cover) on medium-high heat. When grease is hot, cook onions in skillet about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple-slice rings on top on onions, sprinkle with brown sugar, and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes. When apples are soft, gently stir and serve. Add salt to taste, if desired. More below…

Keep in mind this is a soft dish. If you’re used to crunchy apples and crispy onion rings, this ain’t it. It’s important to core the apples and leave the skin on to help the apples retain their shape as much as possible.

I used Jonathan apples and red onions. This recipe makes about 6 servings, so if you want less, cut it in half. Don’t use any other form of oil other than bacon grease or it will not taste as good. This is excellent with pork, you could just fry bacon first and serve them together. This is one “side dish” you can actually put right onto the main dish: spread it over a slice of country ham, a pork chop, or even a slice of juicy roast beef.

Four-Cheese Mac with Bacon

Fully Loaded Macaroni and Cheese - by
Fully Loaded Macaroni and Cheese – by

Get past the nuclear-orange boxed macaroni mix and make a version that your family and friends will beg for. This version is based on a recipe at a favorite restaurant of mine, where they won’t share the recipe. Little do they know that I’m like a scientist and can figure out what’s in there!

Four-Cheese Mac with Bacon

  • Butter for casserole dish
  • 6-8 slices thick center-cut bacon
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/2 cups whole milk (do not use skim)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cheese (about 6 ounces), broken into small pieces
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish. Fry bacon slices; set on paper towels. Pour off all but approximately 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Put the pan back on medium heat and add onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until softened. While stirring constantly, add about a third of the flour; continue stirring and slowly adding flour, for at least 1 minute.

Transfer onion/flour mixture to a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. While whisking, slowly pour in milk. Cook while whisking until mixture bubbles and gets thicker (not necessarily “thick”). Remove pan from heat. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, the cheeses, and stir. Crumble bacon and add it, stirring. Set aside.

Cook pasta in a large saucepan about 2-3 minutes less than box’s instructions. Drain pasta in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain again. Stir pasta into the cooked cheese sauce. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Let dish stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source by Chuck Mallory