Grits ’n Greens
By Tim H. Martin
What’s more country than grits? What’s more country than greens? Put them together and you’ve got yourself the hit of the hoedown!
On a steamy Southern night in 2018, I was introduced to Grits ’n Greens for the very first time.
The thing that stands out about that evening is how delightfully COUNTRY it was.
In a barn just outside of Auburn, Alabama, a country-style buffet containing every species of comfort food you can imagine was set up in celebration of a friend’s 50th birthday. You know you’re in good company when a man in overalls brings the birthday girl a paper sack full of okra. It even had a little bow on top.
As I stood in line, impatiently eyeballing the feast, a bluegrass band began to play and someone told me not to miss out on “them grits ’n greens.”
I filled a Chinete heavy duty plate to the tipping point with a big dab of everything, poured a red Solo cup full tea from the “sweet” jug and searched for an empty chair near a fan, but not right in front of a speaker.
The Mountain Faith Band, a talented group from Sylva, North Carolina, played “Kaw-Liga” as I took my first bite of Grits ’n Greens.
They played fiddles, guitars and banjos well into the night, and after three helpings of my new favorite side dish and hours of happy toe tapping, I knew I had to add this soon-to-be country classic recipe to my collection.
*This recipe feeds a lot of people and is easily halved.
2 cups uncooked grits (Quick grits work fine)
1 cup half and half
7 cups chicken broth
15 oz. can turnip greens, well drained
8 oz. package mozzarella/parmesan shredded cheese mix, divided
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 pound country sausage, browned and crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Coat 9x13 deep-dish pan with spray-on oil
Brown and drain sausage. Boil grits in chicken broth and half and half mixture according to package directions. Empty cooked grits into big mixing bowl, and while hot add butter and half the shredded cheese. Save the other half the cheese to put on top.
Mix remaining ingredients into the bowl, then pour into prepared pan, and smooth top with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered in preheated 350-degree oven until bubbly and golden, 20 to 30 minutes.
*Notes About Cooking Grits ’n Greens
A disposable 9x13 deep-dish aluminum lasagna pan is perfect for this recipe.
Canned greens are easy and cheap, but use fresh greens wilted with hot water if you prefer. Frozen greens can sometimes disintegrate and turn the dish green.
Bacon bits work well if you don’t like the heaviness of sausage.
Option: 4-6 sunny side up eggs, baked on top during the last few minutes