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When a bowl just isn't enough...
Sometimes a hearty bowl of grits, as in a simple pot of cooked buttered grits, will go the distance for most morning occasions. Sometimes a handful of cheese melding into the pot will do for many a fine brunch and luncheon events, it will even do just fine for dinner meals. Think shrimp or fish and grits, Creole egg casserole or grillades, all needing a nice creamy bed of cheese grits to rest its merits on. Then there are times when nothing will do but a good casserole of cheese grits, something a bit more heartier, substantial, something with a bit more weight to it.
There are many cheese casseroles featuring grits with all combinations of flavors. Now sometimes, I still want the simple essence of cheese and grits and the flavor of butter. And when I thought of the simplicity of that, I thought of how, many a' time I have taken my buttered toast and mopped up grits on my plate. So it was only fitting that this recipe came about - think cheese grits on buttered toast. Enjoy!
Toasted Cheese Grits Casserole
about 9 servings
2 slices day-old bread, toasted and dry
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup grits (I prefer white stone ground)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Jack (or another cheese)
2 garlic toes, minced
2/3 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon paprika
good dash of Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
Grate the dry bread for the crumbs (or use plain breadcrumbs or Panko, but I like the taste of white bread) and set aside.
Cook the grits by bringing the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat and whisk in the grits and salt. Stir for 1 minute, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes stirring every 5 or so minutes to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the garlic and the cheese reserving about 2 tablespoons of cheddar for topping.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, blend the eggs with the milk and whisk this into the grits. Add the paprika and hot sauce to taste.
Place grits mixture in a 3-quart shallow casserole dish (or in a baking dish not more than 1 1/2 inches in depth) and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove casserole from oven and cut remaining 2-tablespoons of butter into small cubes and place on top of the grits. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to brown the topping.
Allow casserole to cool about 10 minutes before cutting into squares or spooning onto plates.