Friday, September 20, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Grits and Greens Casserole

I have had a bag full of chopped kale sitting in the refrigerator for days that really had to be dealt with.  I also have a partially used bag of grits that I have been trying to use up.  Imagine my delight when I found a recipe that calls for both!  I modified the original Grits and Greens Casserole recipe to incorporate what I had in my kitchen, and got to finish off a lot of bits and pieces that have been languishing in the fridge for a while.  I'm sure you've noticed the sad lack of bacon in my recipe compared to the image above.  I did not have any, and it sometimes triggers my red meat allergy, so I left it out, but anyone else should feel free to add bacon (just crumble four slices of crispy cooked bacon over the top before baking).  Frugal, fast, easy, and tasty -- what more can you ask of a casserole?  I know I'll be making this one again and again!

Grits and Greens Casserole

1 lb. chopped kale
2 T. olive oil
1/2 C. barbecue sauce (preferably vinegar-based)
1/4 C. heavy cream
2 C. chicken stock
1 C. water
3/4 C. heavy cream
1/4 C. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. stone-ground grits
3/4 C. shredded cheese (I like to use a cheddar blend)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Steam the kale in the microwave on high for one minute (if using bagged chopped kale, just cut a vent hole in the bag and steam in the bag).  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the kale, removing any large pieces of stem if necessary.  Cook the kale down a bit, then add 2-4 T. water or stock, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the kale has cooked down by about half.  Stir in the barbecue sauce, remove from heat, and stir in the cream.  Cover and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the stock, then add the water and cream.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Add the butter, then salt to taste.  Slowly add the grits, stirring constantly so that the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook the grits for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the grits are tender (the consistency of oatmeal, moist not dry).  If the grits become too thick, add warm stock or water to thin.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 C. cheese, reserving the other 1/4 C. of cheese.  Temper the egg with a few spoonfuls of the grits, then stir into the pot with the remaining grits.

Spread half of the grits on the bottom of a greased 8-inch square (or 7x11-inch rectangular) baking dish.  Top with the kale, spreading evenly (drain off any excess liquid first).  Spread the other half of the grits over the greens.  Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 C. cheese over the casserole.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbling.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 6.

Note: The unbaked casserole can be covered and refrigerated for a day.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until bubbling.

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