1 cup coarse corn grits (not the instant variety; stone-ground preferred)
4 cups water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream or more water
3 tablespoons butter
freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh chives
Combine the grits and water in a 3-quart saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Whisk until the grits have a moment to become suspended in the water rather than sinking to the bottom of the pot – about 3 to 5 minutes.
Once the grits come to the boil, reduce the heat to very low and season with salt. Cook, covered but stirring regularly (every 5 to 10 minutes), for 30 to 40 minutes. If the grits become too dry, whisk in a little more warm water and continue to cook. When fully cooked, the grits should be tender and creamy.
Stir in the cheese, heavy cream and butter and season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Let the grits cool to an edible temperature. Sprinkle chives on top and serve.