My series on homeschooling has been set aside now that we’re in the middle of the holidays and preoccupied with lighter things like shopping, making, baking and other holly jolly stuff. Not that homeschool isn’t holly jolly, but it’s a topic that requires more things in my brain to be firing than I’m prepared for at the moment, so I’ll pick it up again in January. “To every thing there is a season…” right?
This is the season to EAT, so let’s talk food — specifically, grits. Me & grits go way on back…
Although I grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (a more city-fied environment), my roots are very much country. The only reason that area would become my childhood stomping ground is due to the military activity there. I’ve always said that most everyone you meet there is from somewhere else for a military-related reason. It’s the home of the largest Navy Base and has over 16 bases in the surrounding area. In fact, many of my dearest childhood friends and I grew up in a neighborhood that had once been military housing.
Back to how I ended up there…
The family history I heard bits & pieces of is a bit foggy in my mind, but sometime in the 40s, my great grandmother moved from the mountains of West Virginia to the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, where there was plenty of work to be found at factories and shipyards. Her children followed soon after.
Meanwhile, a country boy from North Carolina, who had served as a soldier in the Army ended up in Norfolk as well. There, he met and married my grandmother. They eventually settled in the neighboring city of Chesapeake and raised a large family.
Of course, I came along in the following generation, and the North Carolina/West Virginia blend of country was still right thick y’all. Although I’d never lived in either state, people often commented on my accent.
What accent??? hahaha!
The point is, you don’t have to actually live in the “holler“ to have a country-style upbringing. You can live all city-fied and all country-fied at the same time. I truly appreciate the benefits of both influences, but I got a heaping helping of Mountain Mama in my DNA and it’s often served up in a hot, tasty bowl of perfectly seasoned grits. What’s even better is turning this simple Southern comfort into a casserole. It probably won’t impress Martha Stewart, but we like it. = )
Bacon, Cheese & Grits Casserole makes a great Christmas breakfast for many reasons…
It can be made up to a couple of days in advance. It’s even tastier after the flavors have matured!
It feeds plenty of people, cheaply — Hallelujah! Grits are right up there with potatoes, biscuits and dumplings on the “How can I get my people FULL on a tight budget?” list.
Plus, we’ll be overdosing on sweets — so this simple, salty, satisfying breakfast strikes a good balance.
Cooking this casserole in a cast iron skillet certainly isn’t a must, but if you can — do it, for the same reason corn bread is preferable in cast iron. It seems to cook the edges of breads and casseroles and such, just right.
You can do a lot of experimenting with this basic recipe using different meats like ham or sausage. Both are just as good as the bacon! If it were just me, I’d add minced onions and green peppers to kick the flavor up, but one of my people won’t touch it if I do. But, it’ll do fine without ’em, I reckon. ; )
For now, it’s all about BACON!
Printable link: Grits Casserole
- 1 lb of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 8 cups of water
- 2 1⁄2 cups (quick) grits
- 1 stick of butter
- 6 slices of American cheese
- 2 cups of cheddar cheese, divided
- 3 eggs, beaten
- salt & pepper, to taste (I use approx. 3 teaspoons of salt / 1 teaspoon of pepper)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a 12″ cast iron skillet or similar sized casserole dish (set aside).
Cook and chop the bacon.
*To make this an easier meal, I cook the bacon 4 slices at a time between paper towels on a plate in the microwave. Start at 2 – 2 1/2 minutes and then check it, cooking further (if needed) in 30 second increments. Once it’s cooled I cut it several slices at a time with kitchen scissors.In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
Add the grits, stirring well, then immediately turn the heat to LO and cover with a lid. (If you aren’t familiar with cooking grits, be sure there is a small opening in the lid for steam to escape or they can boil over — even on low heat!)
Then, add the butter, American cheese, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and chopped bacon. Mix thoroughly until butter and cheeses have thoroughly melted.
Season with salt & pepper to taste. I use approximately 3 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, but this is a step you really need to customize to your own taste buds.
Next, add the beaten eggs to the grits and mix well.
Add the remaining cup of cheddar cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes more.
Let it cool well before serving — I wait about an hour as grits hold heat for a long period of time, so the casserole will not “set” quickly.
If someone is really impatient like the hungry little man waiting to the side in this shot — it’s fine to let them dig in — it just won’t be a pretty, firm slice and it will BURN if every bite isn’t cooled with those impatient little lips. ; )
As I mentioned before, this is a great meal to make in advance and serve reheated the next day! And it’s extra good with home fries and hot biscuits or buttered toast!
In life, faith & art ~ country-style ; ) Jamie