This "Cheesy Grits Casserole" is so good for breakfast, brunch or dinner! I like this for holiday meals, because you can prep it ahead of time right up to the point of baking and then just bake it right before serving.
Grits are a very southern sort of thing, but I will admit that grits are not served all that much in Kentucky or I should say 'not as much' as they are in the deep south or in some of the coastal southern states. Although I do think that maybe they have gained in popularity over the last 20 years or so. We have always eaten grits in our family, because my father says he learned to eat grits when he visited his sister, my Aunt Tootsie, who married and moved to the deep south, southern Mississippi to be exact. Down there you do not cook a proper breakfast without grits. It's just not done. That might have changed some over the years, but that was just how it was then.
If you order grits here or really most places in Kentucky, they are not going to be cooked right. That is just my experience and I can tell you why they are not good. First of all, you have to salt the water or liquid you are cooking them in immediately. You cannot salt grits after they are cooked or even after they are cooking. Do it right from the start. Also, once cooked, grits should have some body to them. They should not be runny and thin. They also should not be a stiff blob. There is a happy place, just like mashed potatoes, in the middle. When cooked properly, they won't still be gritty either. If they are, they are not done and didn't cook long enough. DO NOT use instant grits! They are so nasty! It is fine to use quick cooking grits, which are not instant! Or use the regular grits, which just take a little longer to cook.
I am sure this grits advice will bring on some debate, because grits can be like cornbread, very subjective and everybody has their own ideas about them. That's ok though, because that is what the world of food is all about. You can never learn it all and everybody can teach us things we never knew or thought of!
Here is what you will need for this "Cheesy Grits Casserole":
4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup butter
1 cup quick cooking grits
dash of hot sauce (I use Tabasco)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the milk with the salt, garlic powder, and black pepper in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and add the butter and grits. Reduce heat to simmer and whisk constantly until the grits are done, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Stir in all of the cheeses and the eggs. If you do not have the smoked Gouda cheese, you can use all cheddar instead of one cup of each. However, the Gouda cheese gives this a really nice, creamy texture.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish you have sprayed with nonstick spray. Place in the preheated 350 degree oven.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or just until it starts to brown on top and puffs just little.
Even non-grit eaters will love this casserole!