Mary Kay Andrews’ Grits ‘n’ Greens Casserole
I met author Mary Kay Andrews at Cindy Burnett and Krista Hensel’s Conversations from a Page coffee in May (see the story in The Buzz here). I had not heard of Mary Kay before her visit to Houston, but she gave such a sharp, witty, honest interview that I was compelled to buy two of her books right there. One was Sunset Beach, which turned out to be the quintessential beach read – light, romantic and quick, with several story lines that made me want to keep reading. The other was Mary Kay’s cookbook The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent, which is a break from her usual work, including 24 novels and several New York Times bestsellers.
Cindy Burnett and I are having a little fun collaborating this week: She reviewed The Beach House Cookbook here in her Page Turners column yesterday. Now, I’m sharing a recipe from the book, Grits ‘n’ Greens Casserole. Full of parmesan cheese, butter, collards and bacon, this is no wallflower casserole. In fact, you might serve it as the center of a brunch, along with extra bacon, biscuits and some fruit. It also would make a great casual supper served with a simple salad.
Mary Kay says her Grits ‘n’ Greens Casserole is the thing that will turn collard greens and/or grits haters into lovers of both. She says that her recipe was inspired by one that she found years ago in Southern Living, and that she’s turned it into her own version which you’ll find here. “I even included [this] recipe in the back of one of my most popular novels, Hissy Fit, which is appropriate,” she writes, “because friends now threaten to pitch a hissy if it doesn’t show up on New Year’s Day or as my contribution at a potluck.”
Our suggestion: Don’t wait until New Year’s Day to try this classic southern casserole!
Grits ‘n’ Greens Casserole
8 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups stone-ground grits
2 ½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound collard greens, stems removed, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 3-quart baking dish. Bring 6 cups of the chicken broth and the half-and-half to a boil in a large stockpot. Gradually stir in the grits. Return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender and the liquid is absorbed. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese, the butter and the pepper. Season with salt to taste, and set aside.
Combine the remaining 2 cups broth and the collards in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the collards are tender. Drain well and press the collards with a paper towel to remove excess liquid.
Fold the cooked greens into the grits and spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the crumbled bacon.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve.
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