Spring is upon us and the greens are too! It’s a perfect time of year to enjoy this grits and greens recipe from Gumbo Love.
I know why some folks turn their noses up at grits. Like rice, cooked without seasoning and special ingredients, grits are bland, and unappetizing. But cooked with cheese and garlic, like my grandmother taught me, grits turn into a gourmet meal. Honestly, from fancy Gruyere to red-rind cheddar, from smoked Gouda to Velveeta, any kind of cheese will do. Pair these gussied-up grits with any seasonal green (collards, mustard greens, or turnip greens), and these two humble Southern ingredients become a masterpiece.
Greens and Grits – Serves 8
Organic olive oil cooking spray
6 bacon slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound collards or other seasonal greens, washed, ribs removed, and leaves torn into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
6 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 cups yellow grits
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
4 cups shredded cheese
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with olive oil spray.
2. Slice the bacon into small to medium pieces and fry in a large heavy skillet (10 to 12 inches) until crisp. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels and set aside.
3. In the same skillet used for the bacon, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sugar and sauté until the onion is caramelized and dark brown.
4. Add the collards, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 cup of the broth. Mix well using tongs. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
6. To make the grits, in a Dutch oven or small stock pot, combine the remaining 6 cups of broth, the cream, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the grits. Cover and cook for five minutes, whisking occasionally.
7. Add the garlic, 2 cups of the cheese, and the hot sauce. Stir until well combined and creamy.
8. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add one cup of the hot grits to the eggs, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking, well, to temper the eggs. Transfer the egg mixture back into the pot of grits and whisk until combined. Cover and turn off the heat, but keep the pot on the burner to keep the grits warm.
9. Pour half the grits into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the collards on top of the grits. Pour the remaining grits over the collards. Top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese and the bacon pieces.
10. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the grits are bubbling. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the cheese is browned.