From the menu: Learn to make The Pinewood’s cheesy grits tots

  • C. W. Cameron
  • For the AJC
12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 Food
TEN APART HOSPITALITY GROUP

From the menu … The Pinewood, 254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur; 404-373-5507; www.pinewoodtr.com

Recently I went to The Pinewood for drinks and appetizers with friends. As Southerners, we were intrigued by their Grits Tots appetizer and ordered one to share. It quickly became the highlight of our experience and conversation. We would love to have the recipe. — Danielle Carter, Atlanta

These little squares of spicy cheese grits, fried to crisp perfection are totally addictive. The restaurant makes them in huge quantities to keep up with demand — 12 1/2 pounds of grits at a time. And they have to make that much at least twice a week.

Chef Mike Blydenstein says, “The grits tots are definitely our No. 1 selling appetizer and I would even go as far to say is the signature appetizer, especially because it is unique to this restaurant.”

We’ve scaled the recipe back to a twentieth of what they prepare. The tots are served with a side of sweet chili aioli which is made by mixing sweet chili sauce and mayonnaise in the proportions you prefer.

If someone in your household is eating gluten-free, you can dredge these tots in cornmeal instead of panko, but the panko is really the perfect coating so it would be worth looking for gluten-free panko to use here. Sambal oelek is found on the Asian food shelves of most grocery stores these days. Or perhaps with the hot sauce.