Adapted from "Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland" by Tanya Holland © Chronicle Books 2014. Provided courtesy of Tanya Holland. All rights reserved.
Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours (includes chilling time)
Ease of Preparation: Intermediate


Grits Cakes:
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits

Creole Hollandaise:
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 white peppercorns
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Kosher salt

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Creole Spice, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 9 large eggs
  • 8 slices thick-cut cooked bacon, optional
  • Fresh chives, for garnish


For the grits cakes: In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are fully cooked and thick like mush, 15 to 20 minutes.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the hot grits onto the prepared baking sheet; it should form a layer about 3/4 inch deep. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

When the grits are cold and firm, use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut them into circles. You should have 8 grits cakes. (To make ahead, refrigerate un-fried cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)

For the Creole hollandaise: In a small saucepan, combine the cider vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Let cool, then strain the vinegar through a sieve into a small bowl, discarding the bay leaf and peppercorns.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Into a blender, add the egg yolks, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pulse to combine. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the melted butter and blend until the sauce has thickened. It should still be thin enough to form a pool (not a mound) when a small amount is spooned onto a cool plate. If the sauce is too thick, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach your desired consistency. (To keep warm, spoon the hollandaise into a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water; thin with more hot water as needed before serving.)

For the benedict: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. In a large cast-iron skillet, add vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. The oil should be hot but not smoking. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and set a wire rack on top.

In a shallow dish, whisk to combine the flour and Creole Spice. In another shallow dish, lightly beat 1 of the eggs. In a third shallow dish, pour in the breadcrumbs. Set a plain baking sheet next to the breadcrumbs.

Working in batches, dredge the grits cakes in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Dip the grits cakes in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs, lightly pressing the breadcrumbs onto the cakes. Put the grits cakes on the plain baking sheet.

Fry the grits cakes a few at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan, turning once, until the cakes are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack over the baking sheet to keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining grits cakes.

In a medium skillet, add water to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Generously salt the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a bare simmer. Carefully break 4 of the eggs, one at a time, and slip into the water, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a kitchen towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining 4 eggs.

Place 2 grits cakes on each plate. Top each cake with 1 slice of bacon, if using, and 1 poached egg. Spoon the hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

Creole Spice

"Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland" by Tanya Holland © Chronicle Books 2014. Provided courtesy of Tanya Holland. All rights reserved.

Yield: About 1/2 cup
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika


Combine the salt, Herbes de Provence, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Store extra spice in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

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