If it seems like we’re getting a little corny around here, it’s because we’re out here in the Southwest and corn is hard to avoid. Corn tortillas, polenta, corn in the salsa, grilled corn – - all yummy, but more carbohydrates than we intended to consume. Well, heck, we can abstain when we get back to Georgia. Today’s motto is “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”
This recipe is great for a crowd. This morning we made another attempt at being social, and attended one of the local “breakfast clubs” where you can get together with your neighbors, look at their fabulous homes, and share a potluck meal. We would never dream of doing anything like this in Atlanta – - but getting to know the people that live around you in rural New Mexico is as much a necessity as a pleasure. How else would you know who to call about the cows that wandered in your yard, who installs the best solar power systems, and how to keep pack rats out of the vents in your truck? (The answer to the last question involved urinating on the tires.)
Ahem…. Back to the recipe. This casserole is really rich with eggs, cream, and cheese, and the sausage adds a nice zip to it. If you’re not taking it to a pot luck, serve it with a selection of fresh fruits for breakfast or brunch. The leftovers are pretty good too, any time of the day or night!
- 3/4 cup stone ground corn grits (also known as polenta)
- 3 cups water and/or broth
- 4 tablespoons butter (pastured)
- 1 pound gluten-free breakfast sausage (raw)
- a couple shakes of red pepper flakes (if you’re not using hot sausage)
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup half and half, or whole milk
- 3 ounces cheese (I used a combo of Monterey Jack and mild Cheddar)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- sprinkling of sweet paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a medium-sized baking dish with butter. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the 3 cups of water/broth and the butter to a boil. Whisk in the corn grits and stir until completely combined; reduce heat to low and simmer for around 15-20 minutes until the grits are creamy and thickened. Stir frequently to keep the grits from sticking.
While the grits are cooking, cook the sausage, onion, and red pepper flakes in a skillet, breaking up the sausage as it cooks, until the sausage is browned and the onion is tender. Drain excess fat.
Whisk the eggs in with the half and half. (I whisk it together in a measuring cup.)
When the grits are done, remove from heat. Slowly pour in the egg/milk mixture, whisking vigorously while you pour so that you don’t cook the eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the cooked sausage and onion. Adjust seasoning to taste. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until set and lightly browned on top. Serve warm. (Who am I kidding, we ate some of this stone cold and it was still yummy!)
Corn? I got yer corn right here! First up is Classic Songs of Spike Jones & His City Slickers. I grew up on this stuff…which might explain a few things. Spike Jones “fractures” popular music, and once you hear “The Sheik of Araby” or “Clink Clink, Another Drink” you’ll never be the same!
Although they were extremely talented musicians–Jethro Burns was one of the world’s premier mandolin players– Homer and Jethro made their claim to fame with “country cutups” as collected on America’s Song Butchers: The Weird World Of Homer & Jethro. “Let Me Go, Blubber” or their classic take on Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” is comedy gold.