So, I have to ask, do you guys have any special traditions on New Year's day? The annual New Year's Day meal, perhaps? Or do any of you believe in the old wives' tale that you can't do any laundry on New Year's Day because it's bad luck? (As soon as I heard about this about five years ago, I quickly put it into practice! The last load is done before the clock strikes twelve on December 31st!)
As a true Southerner, I can tell you that collard greens, black-eyed peas and some dish of pork as always been on our dinner table come New Year's day. It represents good luck and prosperity for the new year. I always plan my menu accordingly, but the problem is that my kids are pretty picky and actually don't love either collards OR peas. (One cannot dine on pork alone!) Thus, I set out this year to find some recipes that might make these vegetables more palatable for them. I think I struck gold!
I love the author Mary Kay Andrews. She used to be a writer for the Atlanta Journal and lives in Georgia. Her books are funny and clever, and always take place in the south. She has created some memorable characters and also makes one want to just jump in their car and head to Savannah, Georgia for some antiquing! She also includes some recipes at the end of most of her books that somehow pertained to the story. (I'm a foodie, so I love that she does this!)
One of the recipes that I actually tore out of the book and saved was her Grits n'Greens casserole. I put it away a few years ago and made a mental note that I really needed to try this during the holidays. Well, today was the day -- and boy was it good! How could a dish that contains cream, bacon and parmesan cheese NOT be good? (Hey, keep in mind that I didn't say this was a healthy recipe!) It was a smashing success, and YES, even my kids really loved it! My Dad asked to keep a little bit for his leftovers after our New Year's lunch today -- and that's saying something coming from someone who takes his southern cuisine very seriously! It's definitely one our new New Year's traditions!
I want to share Mary Kay's recipe with y'all, as it's definitely unusual and very tasty! I did tweak it a little bit and added some fresh minced garlic to my collards as they were cooking. Additionally, I added some salt and a bit more pepper to the casserole mixture. Also, as I was eating my Dad's own homemade collards today that were seasoned with a little jalapeno pepper, I thought that would be a nice spicy addition to this dish as well! *Oh, and a big change -- I only used one stick of butter! I thought two sticks would just be too much. (Remember, collards are actually a super food -- I don't want to cancel out all the goodness!)
Grits n’ Greens Casserole
2 cups whipping cream or half and half
8 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cup grits-not instant or quick cooking
1 lg. bag frozen collard greens
2 sticks butter*
2 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
Grease 13×9 casserole.
Combine cream and 6 cups chicken broth and bring to boil. Stir in grits and cook over medium heat until grits return to boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and stir frequently to keep from burning, 25-30 minutes. Add milk if needed to thicken to proper consistency. If you’re Southern, you know what that is, if not, think of slightly runny oatmeal. While grits are simmering, cook frozen collards with remaining 2 cups of chicken broth til’ tender, about ten minutes.
Drain well in colander, squeezing out remaining liquid. Add butter, parmesan and pepper to cooked grits, and stir til’ butter is melted. Stir in cooked greens, and spoon into greased casserole. Top with additional parmesan, and crumbled bacon. Dish can be served at room temperature, or heated in 350-degree oven til’ browned on top.
I hope you all enjoy this, and I wish you a healthy and prosperous 2015! *Oh, and please let me know in the comments about your own New Year traditions! I love hearing how everyone celebrates!