Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas  
Recipe from Southern Living

We took a cue from shepherd's pie and used grits (in lieu of mashed potatoes) to seal in the flavor of juicy sausage in an ever-so-sweet sauce.

Ingredients

  • Cheese Grits Crust
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Sausage Filling
  • 1 (19-oz.) package mild Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 medium-size red onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium or organic chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grape jelly
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Hands On: 50 Minutes
Total: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes

  1. 1. Prepare Grits Crust: Bring milk and 1 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add grits, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and next 3 ingredients; remove from heat.
  2. 2. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits mixture into eggs; add egg mixture to remaining hot grits mixture, stirring until blended.
  3. 3. Prepare Sausage Filling: Preheat oven to 375°. Cook sausage in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove sausage from Dutch oven, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven.
  4. 4. Sauté bell peppers and onion in hot drippings 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stir together tomatoes, bell pepper mixture, and sausage in a large bowl.
  5. 5. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 4 to 5 minutes or until smooth and medium brown. Gradually whisk in broth, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  6. 6. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in jelly and next 3 ingredients. Stir into sausage mixture, and spoon into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Gently spread Cheese Grits Crust over top.
  7. 7. Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let casserole stand 10 minutes before serving.

January 2014