Grits and Greens a Recipe for New Year's Day

New Year’s Day brings traditional good luck foods to the forefront in many homes. In the South, peas, greens, pork, and cornbread are found on a lot of tables. The greens vary, for my family, it has always been Collard greens. For others, Turnip greens and even Cabbage are considered the tradition. Several years ago, I found a new tradition for my little family - Grits and Greens.

Grits and Greens a New Take on an Old New Year’s Tradition

Grits and Greens a New Take on an Old New Year's Tradition

When I was a little girl, our family went to south Georgia to visit a favorite great aunt on New Year’s Day.  Only the older generation were there that day, and the food was not like that of the family reunion each summer. This time the food was simple; food I grew up eating. We always visited my grandmother and ate ham on New Year’s but this particular day I saw pork in a whole different light.  My sister and I were out on the back porch and there on the shelf out of the way sat a crock pot, we asked a great aunt what was in it. We heard “chicken”, so we lifted a lid and found that it was not chicken, but chitlins (pig small intestine). That was a light I never wanted turned on. While it is a tradition food in the deep south, it will never be a tradition found in my kitchen.

Grits and Greens a New Take on an Old New Year’s Tradition

Let’s be honest, okay. I’m not a big fan of collard greens because they are more on the tough side than turnip greens. The bigger the leaf, the tougher they are. So I always make a small batch with turnip greens for me.

When I first found this recipe, I used garden grown greens I cooked and froze during the summer months. While we were living in Montana and could find nothing but bags of fresh greens that were mostly stems, I used canned (27 oz) greens. I drained and rinsed them in water. Fresh greens are always best, but if you can’t find them, use what you can find. A bag of fresh or frozen greens will always work.

A tip or two: If you are using canned or frozen Collards you won’t need all the chicken broth. You'll want to use enough broth to cover the greens and heat them through.

Grits come in instant, quick, and old fashioned/stone ground. Don’t use the instant grits for this recipe. Quick grits cook between 5-8 minutes, this is what I use. Old fashioned grits take about 15- 20 minutes to cook. If you are new to cooking grits - TIME them - You want them to be thick similar to oatmeal.

G rits and Greens a New Take on an Old New Year’s Tradition

Grits and Greens

Ingredients:

• 6-8 pieces of bacon

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 2 cups grits (not instant) I use quick cooking grits

• 1 bunch of fresh greens, chopped ** see tip above

• 1 stick butter

• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese (reserve 1 cup)

• salt and pepper, to taste

• up to 8 cups chicken broth

• 2 cups heavy cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a hot skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside to cool for crumbling. In the drippings, cook onions until translucent and add to pot when cooking greens.

In a pot large enough to hold your greens, add 4 cups of chicken broth and cook your greens until tender. (You may need a little more while cooking) ** see tip above** Drain and squeeze out as much liquid from the greens as possible. Reserve the liquid to be used in cooking the grits.

In a large pot, melt butter and add the reserved greens liquid plus enough cups of broth to equal 6 cups. (a total of 6 cups of juice/broth) Add heavy cream, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the grits and return to a boil, turn down to low and simmer. Stir occasionally to keep lumps from forming and sticking to the pot. When the grits are done according to the type you are using, {quick 5-8 minutes, old fashioned 15-20 minutes} add the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, stir until well combined. Add the drained greens and onions, mixing well.

Pour into a well buttered 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Grits and Greens a New Take on an Old New Year’s Tradition

Do you have a favorite New Year's Day tradition food?