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Mizithra Grits Casserole

From Butter Beans to Blackberries by Ronni Lundy

It's impossible to imagine a Derby brunch or Mobile Mardi Gras buffet without a casserole of golden savory cheese grits at the center of the table. Classically, this dish is laden with grated cheddar cheese (up to a pound for 6 to 8 servings), butter, and cream. But as more and more distinctively flavored cheeses have become available throughout the South, clever cooks have used them to cut back on the quantity of cheese without sacrificing the quality of flavor. My favorite is hard mizithra, a tangy Greek whey-based cheese that is also naturally low in fat. If you can't find mizithra, substitute a good parmesan or romano, freshly grated.

6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
1/4 cup butter
2 cups freshly grated mizithra
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350F, and lightly grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

In a heavy pan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Pour the grits slowly into the water, stirring as you do, to prevent lumping. Turn the heat down, so the mixture is at a slow simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat, and add the butter, cheese and garlic. Mix until the cheese and butter melt.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the milk. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of the hot grits to the egg mixture, whisking as you do. When the eggs are warmed, pour them into the baking dish and bake for 50 minutes, until the grits are set and golden.

Serve warm.