New Year's Good Luck Casserole
To ensure good luck all year, I make this cheesy grits and black-eyed peas casserole every New Year's Day
To ensure that we have good luck all year, I make this cheesy grits and black-eyed peas casserole every New Year's Day, and often during the winter months. This casserole is made with a Texas Caviar flare! It is so tasty that you can't quit eating it.
I took one casserole to a party and it disappeared like magic. I left a second casserole at home for the family and when I got back from the party, the second one was gone as well.
In the past, a dear friend of mine owned a local company that bottled a concoction called Texas Caviar. Back then, I made this grits casserole by cooking grits and mixing in butter and cheese and a jar of her Texas Caviar, which consisted of black-eyed peas, onions, and various hot peppers.
I have now managed to recreate that same taste by making it all from scratch.
Shrimp and grits is the most popular grits casserole in Texas (link below). Although my recipe does not contain shrimp or meat or even eggs, it is addictive and tasty all the same. Shrimp, bacon, sausage, ham, or other ingredients can be added. I am known for substituting and adding ingredients. I would imagine that one could add sauteed zucchini, okra, leeks, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or whatever you wanted to try.
Cheesy Grits Casserole
First, cook the grits.
6 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups grits (not instant; use the kind that takes 5 to 7 minutes to cook)
Bring the water to a boil and s-l-o-w-l-y pour the grits into the boiling water, stirring constantly and reducing the heat to medium. Put the lid on the pot and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The goal is to avoid lumps. When it's done, stir and check for lumps. If you find one, fish it out and toss it away. I measure the grits using a glass Pyrex cup that has a spout. The spout makes it easy to pour the grits slowly into the water.
Set the grits aside for now.
Prepare the following:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, skin removed, chopped
You can also add fresh hot peppers such as jalepeno and serrano
10 or so small crimini mushrooms, washed, stems removed, chopped
1 or more pods of pressed garlic
Sauté the onions, red peppers, hot peppers, mushrooms and garlic in a small amount of butter or olive oil until the onions are transparent.
Preheat the oven, then place two 9x12 pans in the oven with half the butter* (see below) in each pan. Let the butter melt (watch carefully), then drain the melted butter into the grits. This way, your pans are greased.*
Prepare the following:
1 small 4 oz. can jalapeno peppers slices chopped fine (membranes, seeds removed)
1 15.5 oz. can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned corn, drained, or corn cut from the cob
1 cup Kraft Mexican shredded cheese
1 cup Kraft Colby Jack & Cheddar shredded cheese
¼ stick butter* (see above)
Spices, to taste
I use garlic powder, Penzeys Salsa Salad seasoning, and Penzeys Arizona Dreaming spice (or equivalent). I shake a dash of garlic powder over it, then add approximately a teaspoon each of the Penzeys spices.
Salt and pepper to taste
(Penzeys Salsa Salad seasoning is a dry blend of chili pepper, garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, Mexican oregano, chives, bay leaf, and chipotle pepper. Penzeys Arizona Dreaming is a dry blend of ground ancho, onion, garlic, paprika, chipotle pepper, red pepper, and jalapeno. I’ve been ordering these spices online but now a Penzeys store opened on North Lamar in Austin.)
Mix everything together. Divide the mixture in half and press into the two pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes covered with foil. Check to make sure it's firm, not mushy.
Remove foil and scatter more grated cheese on top and return to oven until melted and slightly browned.
This is one of those recipes where you can substitute and add and subtract like mad.
I added corn because I had some left over from the night before. Fresh corn on the cob cooked and then cut off the cob is best, but you can omit the corn if you want.
You can substitute black beans or pinto beans for the black-eyed peas, any time except for New Year's Eve, when you must include black eyed peas to ensure good luck for the coming year.
You can add a can of Hatch's green chiles. I buy the whole chiles in a can, remove the membranes and seeds, and chop. These add a wonderful flavor and are compatible with all the other peppers and spices.
If you want to make this ahead and freeze it, leave out the mushrooms.
Fresh cilantro and/or Italian parsley would be yummy.
You can add eggs, although you don't need to. You can also add crisp crumbled bacon, shrimp, sausage or diced ham.
This casserole turns out beautifully when baked in a Baker's Edge pan (see below). I bought two of those from Amazon to use for baking brownies, and I recently tried baking this casserole in them. It makes a firmer casserole that is easy to cut into squares to serve at potluck luncheons. These squares actually serve as finger food, and they are one of the first foods to disappear.
I love grits in any form or fashion. My favorite breakfast is a bowl of grits with butter in the center, accompanied with a toasted English muffin. However, I've noticed that many people react with "Ewww! Grits! I don't like grits!" This recipe may change your mind. You could also try substituting rice or macaroni for the grits.
Just make sure you eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day. This next year is going to be a better year for all of us.
For a recipe for the most popular grits casserole in Texas, check out a hub written by crazyhorsesghost, http://crazyhorsesghost.hubpages.com/hub/Shrimp-And-Grits-Casserole