I adore being the Hospitality Co-ordinator for the teachers at our school, it is one small way to give back to them and to show thanks and appreciation for all they do. Each year I organize a Breakfast before the Winter Break, and parents are always extremely generous and thoughtful – laying down an incredible selection of delicious food for the teachers to enjoy. I made this Ham and Cheese Grits Casserole the night before, then installed it in the oven to bake while I helped the kids with their morning routine, then delivered it along with our youngest, a few simple decorations and paper goods, to the school.
HAM AND CHEESE GRITS CASSEROLE
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
8 cups water
2 cups coarse, stone-ground grits (not instant)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound shredded sharp white cheddar
8 ounces cream cheese
4 cups diced ham
3/4 cup diced green onion
3 eggs, beaten
Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Stirring constantly, sprinkle the grits into the water. When the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until just tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg. Continue cooking, and stirring, until grits are very thick and creamy, about 10 minutes more.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, cheese, ham and green onions, then stir in the eggs. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350F. Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until bubbly and golden brown.
Recipe inspired by Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 2015