Grits are a down home, southern, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. The kind of easy comfort food I crave on a brisk winter morning or when things haven’t been going my way. They can be eaten sprinkled with sugar, or enriched by cheese. But if you really want them to be special, make these easy baked grits with sausage gravy.
Grits come in several varieties, but I usually buy the iron-fortified quick grits because, as long as you are making one serving, they can even be cooked in the microwave. Talk about a fast healthy breakfast! The instructions on the box say: Cook with water, but for creamier grits, use milk instead.
For my money, the milk version wins every time. Milk not only makes creamier grits but it adds nutritional value as well. Milk contains several important nutrients; a glass of milk will give you calcium, protein, iodine, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins B2 and B12. If you use water, you are missing out on all that.
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- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup quick grits
- 4 1/4 cups milk
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 2 large eggs beaten
- Butter for greasing 6 ramekins
- 16 ounce breakfast sausage (We prefer hot but you can use mild.)
- 1/4 cup drippings from cooked sausage
- 1 cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- Black pepper
Bring the milk to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt and slowly pour the quick grits in stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring the milk back to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the grits have thickened, stirring constantly.
Pour the grits into a mixing bowl and leave to cool for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the cold cream cheese and mix well until combined.
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and butter 6 1-cup ramekins. Set aside. Put a full kettle of water on to boil.
Whisk the two eggs in another bowl. Add small spoons of the warm grits to the eggs, whisking briskly, until you’ve added about 1/3 of the grits to the eggs and have a lovely homogeneous mixture.
Now add the egg/grits mixture to the cream cheese/grits bowl and stir well to combine. Divide the grits into the prepared ramekins. I had about 4 1/2 cups total so each ramekin got about 3/4 cup of grits.
Place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan, and add the hot water from your kettle to pan halfway up the sides of ramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.
Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes covered. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more or until tops begin to brown. I wanted just a little more color, so I put mine under the broiler for another few minutes but you can skip this step.
While the easy baked grits are in the oven, we’ll make the sausage gravy. In a large skillet, brown the sausage meat and break it into crumbles with your spoon. Keep browning until the sausage is completely cooked and you have some lovely crunchy pieces that are quite dark.
Turn the heat off and tip the pan to one side. Push the sausage crumbles up to the high side of the pan so you can spoon most of the drippings off, leaving about 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons behind.
Sprinkling the flour into the pan a little at a time, stirring the sausage and flour around until all of the flour is incorporated. Season with black pepper and a little cayenne, if desired. Cook over a medium heat for just a few minutes to get rid of the floury taste.
Pour in the cold milk and stir until the flour has been dissolved.
Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the gravy thickens to your desired consistency. I like it pretty thick. You can add more milk to loosen it up if you prefer thinner gravy.
Once the easy baked grits are out of the oven, you can serve them immediately in the ramekins with the sausage gravy on top, or leave the grits to cool for about 10 minutes before unmolding them to plates.
Sprinkle with minced green onion tops, if desired.