Peabody Grits Pudding

Steeped in Southern charm and tradition from its exquisite guest accommodations to its gracious dining room to its twice-daily parade of ducks going to and from their penthouse pond to the lavish lobby fountain, the Peabody Hotel in Memphis is a slightly eccentric but civilized landmark that no traveler in the South should miss. At the Peabody, this unusual grits pudding is normally served with peach slices sautéed in honeyed orange butter. While that’s always an option at home, if you really want to dazzle guests, let the pudding stand on its own; by itself, you can better appreciate both the flavor and texture of the grits. Should you decide to use the garnish, however, simply sauté a dozen fresh peach slices in a tablespoon of butter over moderate heat till barely browned, about 2 minutes, add ¼ cup of honey, 2 tablespoons of water, and a tablespoon of grated orange rind, stir till the peaches are soft and the sauce slightly thickened, and spoon over the pudding.

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Grated rind of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup stone-ground or regular grits
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 1½- to 2-quart basking dish or casserole with butter and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, cinnamon, and lemon zest, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Gradually add the grits and cook, stirring constantly, till the grits are thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla till frothy, add to the grits mixture, and stir till well blended. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish or casserole and bake till most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, spoon the pudding onto dessert plates, and serve hot or warm.