*Disclaimer: This is not a low fat, low cholesterol dish, but it is yummy*
If you don’t like cheese or bacon do not read any further, run screaming for the hills in an attempt to protect your artery’s. On the other hand if you read the title and the first things that came to your mind when you saw “Southern Breakfast” were cheesy grits, country ham, bacon and you don’t give one iota about the affect this meal may have on your already over taxed artery’s, then by all means read on. I will say this… portion control or serving at least 12 people should possibly keep the prospects of a cholesterol overload down to a minimum.
I couldn’t think of a better way to start off the weekend than to have breakfast for dinner. Especially when the meteorologists are forecasting a winter cold front to arrive tonight and tomorrow. Okay now, I know what you all are thinking, “We have heard that from you before southern girl, but the proof is in the pudding…or frozen precipitation. Due of course to the arctic air continuing to feed in from the north”. Man do I have my weather lingo down pat or what? Can you tell that I am married to a surfer. If only you knew. Surfers eat, sleep and breathe meteorological information as much as any good farmer does. The only differences is that one is using the knowledge for his crops and the other is in search of the best possible waves in the foreseeable future. This time though we might actually see some of the rare frozen stuff.
Any-who, I had a yummy idea for a new twist on our typical breakfast “dinner” of eggs, biscuits and bacon. I wanted to make a breakfast lasagna, so with my idea in mind, I scooted off to the grocery store to get some last minute ingredients that I needed tonight. I was all set with my lasagna noodles, those were waiting for me in the pantry. I needed some more cheese, country ham and some extra eggs . Have you figured out my opps yet? Now to get started. Bacon in the oven…check. Cheesy grits nearly ready to start…check. Water boiling for the pasta…check. Get pasta from the pantry…BOWTIES 1box, PENNE 1box, BOWTIES 1 box?
Yep, that’s right, you guessed it. No lasagna. I had purchased not one but two boxes of bowties by mistake. At this point I am standing in the middle of my kitchen, mouth agape, looking back and forth between the pantry and the stove, positively sure that by some miracle a box of lasagna would appear. How could I possibly make lasagna without… LASAGNA! Duh Red! your brilliance is astounding! Sorry, there I go talking to myself again.
I promise you that there is a yummy recipe at the end of all of this rambling .
I did what any good woman, southern or otherwise, would do… I made lemonade out of lemons. Penne Bake it would be. Hah! Take that you pesky kitchen fates. That will teach you to mess with The Red. I am so sorry, not only am I talking to myself tonight but my cocky side is dominate at the moment. I promise to put her back in her cage in a minute.
Here is my Southern Breakfast Lasagna. Yes, I am still calling it that because the vision of it’s splendid beautiful layers are stuck in my head and darn it all I will make it…one day.
Southern Breakfast Lasagna/Bake
1 cup quick grits (not instant)
4 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1 cup Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp Ricotta cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1 8oz box penne pasta
10 eggs (or a dozen if you need more)
1 package of bacon
1 8oz package of country ham (use half)
2 8oz bags of Cheddar (1 yellow/1 white)
1 small container of Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Romano cheese
1 green pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 425
Prep work: Boil water in two medium pots for the grits and the pasta. The 4 cups of water are specifically for the grits. Also at the same time put your bacon into two roasting pans and bake in the oven at 425.
Dice the green pepper and shallot then saute them until the shallot is caramelized and all of the water has evaporated from the green pepper. Set them aside.
Once the water has reached boiling for both the pasta and the grits start the pasta first and reduce the heat to medium. As always cook your pasta al dente. PS: don’t forget the bacon check on it. You need the bacon to be crispy but not burnt. If the bacon is done remove and set aside. If it is not done keep a watchful eye on it.
Now you must concentrate on your grits. Have all of the ingredients that you need at hand because once you start you can’t stop. Grits need to be constantly stirred. 1 cup grits, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 tbsp Ricotta, cream and salt/pepper.
First pour the grits into the boiling water and immediately reduce to low heat. Start stirring. Once it has thickened some add the cream, keep stirring.
Continue stirring until everything is well blended and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
At this point your pasta should be done as well as your bacon. Set these aside as well.
In a medium skillet brown the country ham for approx one minute on either side.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and have ready.
Make sure that you have everything at your finger tips when you start assembling.
Note: You do not see any green pepper or shallot in this photo only because I split the recipe into two dishes. One without veggies for the monkeys and one with for the grownups.
Chop the ham into fine pieces and crumble the bacon.
1. Spread a layer of Ricotta on the bottom of your casserole dish.
2. Add a layer of pasta.
3. A layer of creamy cheesy Gruyere grits. #1 one of my darlin’ surfers least favorite southern foods. He’s a California boy so he’s forgiven.
4. Bacon is meat candy! 🙂 That TICKLES me so much every time I hear it. Thank you Rick Bayless for wearing that tee shirt with the quote on your show one day. It is Monkey One’s favorite food quote now.
5. Country Ham 🙂 YUM! #2 of my darlin’ surfers least favorite southern foods. On this one he is just plum crazy. I can’t fathom not loving country ham, can you?
6. Green pepper and shallot.
8. Cheddar cheese. If I ever become lactose intolerant someone will have to shoot me and put me out of my misery. I adore cheese. It is one of my obsessions.
9. Eggs. Notice the change of color in the dishes. 🙂 monkeys dish & grownups dish.
10. A little more pasta. I was fancy here in order to soothe my creative muse that was still a bit peeved about not being able to use lasagna.
11. Extra bacon, ham and veggies across the middle.
12. Remainder of the Cheddar cheese as well as the Parmesan Romano cheese. Drool! Please excuse the extreme lapse in my manners.
Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until it is all golden and bubbly like this…
If you serve it immediately it will be all hot and gooey and look like this… (This is where I begin to really loose control of my manners and I make what my girl friend calls my “Silence of the Lambs” slurping noises. I can’t help my self…honestly. It must be the Foodie Reflex Disorder)
Or you can let it cool and it will make neat and presentable slice’s like so…
Guess what? My darlin’ surfer loved it 🙂 He did mention the grits but he didn’t mind them so much this time. Monkey One loved his and Monkey Two can get over his “There are too many flavors!”. His lose and you can’t always please everyone.
I will admit that I have had two helpings…gasp! Now honestly we usually eat really healthy here, well other than baking. I’m sorry but I will not scrimp on cheesecake for anyone. Normally we have salads, fresh veggies, nothing fried- always baked…okay, every once in a while fried, we don’t eat meat every night… you get the idea. This time though, just this once, fat won out at my house and it was sooooo gooood!
The bad news is that now Jillian gets a free pass to come and kick my sorry behind into shape after all of the creamy cheese grits, pasta and meat candy I just scarfed down. I give in Jillian. Come and get me because after all of this cooking and not working, I probably could use you right about now.
I hope ya’ll enjoy the Southern Breakfast Lasagna/Bake sometime soon and as always, be creative with the recipe. Make it your own and play with it.
Weather Update 1-30-10
As usual all of NC except for the coast has snow or ice. We of course have cold miserable rain and not much else. Oh well…great weather to snuggle with the monkeys, the surfer and watch some movies 🙂