Since we never talk about a single “grit,” grits can be singular or plural at the user’s discretion. So it’s proper to say “grits is” as well as “grits are.” Or is it?

Grits would seem to fall under the rules for collective nouns, which means using singular verbs for units of individuals, i.e., crowd or army.

It sounds more natural to have grits take the plural verb, are. But as a lifelong Southerner, I have heard and accepted both. And it seems like a dead-end debate either way.

Now, I would never be so presumptuous as to start calling grits “hominy.” That is a Charleston birthright, a stamp of being a native.

But what is hominy? Hominy is flint or dent corn, those with hard kernels that are dried on the cob. Hominy grits or “grist” are the result of removing those kernels and softening their hulls in an alkaline solution; hulling and drying the kernels; then grinding.

A West Ashley reader recently requested recipes for grits casseroles (see, doesn’t that sound a bit odd?).

But first, for those who might not know the nuances of grits:

Stone-ground grits are the most flavorful, those “processed” the old-fashioned, artisan way in a stone mill, and typically include the kernel’s “germ.” They are coarser than other grits and take the longest to cook.

“Regular” or “plain” grits are commercially produced and have a medium grind, meaning about a 10-minute cooking time.

“Quick” grits are ground even finer and take 5 or so minutes to cook.

Lastly, “instant” grits are precooked, so you just add hot or boiling water and stir to rehydrate. Which means you end up with something gluey and bland with no texture or taste like good grits is/are meant to have.

Sheila Strack of Manning offers a recipe that she says is not only great, but freezes well. “It’s wonderful comfort food so makes a super dish for a sick person.”

She says she tried it with instant grits, “and it was not good, so make sure you use regular grits.”

Cheese Sausage Grits

Serves 8

Ingredients

5 cups water

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup grits (not instant)

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sharp grated cheddar cheese

3 eggs, beaten

½ cup milk

1 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Bring water and salt to boil. Slowly add grits. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Add eggs, milk and sausage. Mix well.

Put into greased 3-quart shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 60 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Dr. Jane Charles, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, writes, “This is an old family favorite, great for potluck dinners especially if there will be vegetarians attending. It has a lot of protein; unfortunately, also a lot of cholesterol.”

Cheese Grits

Ingredients

1 cup quick grits

1 stick butter, cubed

1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese cut into small cubes

1/3 cup milk

3 eggs beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare grits according to instructions on box. Once cooked, add butter and cubed cheese.

Stir until cheese and butter are melted and blended in.

Add milk and eggs, stir until blended.

Pour into 2-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.

To kick things up with a bit more seasoning, I am borrowing a recipe from the Hoppin’ John website, www.hoppinjohns.com.

Hoppin’ John, aka John Martin Taylor, does not live in Charleston any longer, but he remains the Lowcountry’s foremost culinary historian. You can find grits and other products for sale through his website.

The recipe is adapted from Taylor’s “The New Southern Cook.”

Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

¾ cup whole-grain grits

3 cups water

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup milk

2 beaten eggs

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Directions

Use a little of the butter to grease a 1½-quart casserole dish with tall sides.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the rest of the butter, the grits, the water, and the salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally so that the grits do not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Continue to cook the grits until most of the water is absorbed, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the cheese is melted.

Turn out into the greased pan and bake in the preheated oven until a knife poked in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Serve immediately.

Also searching my Outlook’s reader recipes folder, I found this recipe from Judy Oken in Meggett. She sent it last year in response to a shrimp and grits request, but it didn’t quite fit at the time. Now it does.

“Here is a recipe that was in my local hometown newspaper,” she wrote. “It looks delicious, but I have not tried it yet. The recipes in that paper are usually very good (Edgefield Advertiser).”

Shrimp and Grits Crustless Quiche

Ingredients

1/3 cup quick-cooking grits

3/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

11/2 cup half-and-half

1 pound shrimp, peeled and cooked barely pink

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood seasoning

3 eggs beaten

Directions

Cook grits in boiling 3/4 cup water, with salt added, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half-and-half, then all other ingredients. Pour into a greased 10-inch pie plate and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm with melted butter.

Who’s got the recipe?

A Mount Pleasant reader is looking for good cookie or bar recipes that include pecans and coconut.

Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Email Food Editor Teresa Taylor at food@postandcourier.com or call 937-4886.