Originally this recipe is called Savory Ham-and-Swiss Breakfast Pie, but I dropped the Savory because I’m not sure what about the wording that follows it would induce you to think it’s a dessert. Now that I got that off my chest, this recipe is like a step up (or ten) from the traditional Southern cheese grits casserole some of you may be familiar with. That means, basically, it’s even awesomer.
What’s a grit, you say? If you’re really not sure, just Google it and then swing back by here to see how yummy you can make them. I’m betting you’ve at least heard of them by now. Why, just the other day someone told me they’d spotted some in Portland, Oregon. I do declare!
This is a relatively cheap meal to make and it comes at the perfect time of year. We’re ready to crank up that oven and comfort food is on the menu. My family has a history with enjoying the Cure 81 brand ham, but use whatever is similar and to your taste. Hopefully you do enjoy grits, though, because even the smallest package you buy will likely supply you with enough grits to feed a small army. The Swiss cheese was a definite go for us but – yep – you can certainly substitute another kind if you prefer.
This is your prep work – not bad! Easy and quick. Once again, we might have grated more cheese than the recipe called for. This is one of those things you really should adjust to suit you. I mean, it’s cheese. Cheese = yes, please.
And in goes that cheeeese! Oh no, that wasn’t all of it. Nope.
This was one of those rare times I couldn’t tell that much of a difference in quick cooking grits from regular grits. The end product is pretty darn tasty.
So the grit “crust” has already been baked a little to set it, and now we’re adding some slightly sautéed ham and green onions, the delectable topping to this really yummy breakfast dish. Although it’s called a pie, it’s sort of a casserole, too.
This is the part where you’ll see if your pie plate is truly deep enough for the entire recipe. Turns out the deepest one I had wasn’t really deep enough. Remember to pull out your deep-dish pie plate if you have one, or, honestly – just put it in a casserole dish. What size? One that’s bigger than your pie plate (sorry, but obviously we used the pie plate and all…). Make sure to just watch your grits layer as it bakes, and the rest, as the size of your dish might determine how much more quickly (or less quickly) your pie is baked.
If you’re like us and went with a pie plate that’s not quite deep enough, just don’t use all your egg mixture on top of the ham. Use as much as will fit and scramble up the rest for those picky kiddo eaters.
Before the final baking, sprinkle on some more of that wonderful cheeeeese.
Notice how dang FULL our pie plate is? Keep in mind the eggs will puff up in the oven. We baked ours on a cookie sheet in case it spilled over, but thankfully there were no spills.
And this baby is baked! At this point it had cooled for about thirty minutes or more, and you can see how it fell a little by the browned marks close the ruffle-shaped rim. Whew! Close call, but now it’s time to dig in. The smells while it bakes, by the way? Incredible.
Due in part, partially, to our pie plate shape, and the grits still being a soft layer (they’re definitely set, but it’s grits, they’re soft even when baked), this is a little difficult to get out of the pie plate in a wedge shape. The important thing to remember is, you’re hungry. It’s time to eat. Just let folks scoop it up out of the pie plate or casserole dish with a spoon. How rebellious, right?
I love a good old Southern cheesy grits casserole, and this spin that takes it to a meal all its own is a perfect step up. Serve it with a little fresh fruit and everyone’s favorite morning beverages and you’re set! The grits are creamy and the ham adds that satisfying bite only a piece of flavorful meat can. This is a great, easy option for those upcoming Holiday get-togethers or just as a treat for your family. Enjoy!
Ham-and-Swiss Breakfast Pie
from Southern Living Magazine, October 2005 via MyRecipes.com
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 8
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
- 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
- 8 large eggs, divided
- 1/2 pound cooked ham, diced
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
Bring first 6 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes. Lightly beat 2 eggs, and stir into grits mixture; pour into a lightly greased 10-inch deep pie plate.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes; remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400°.
Sauté ham and onions in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Layer ham mixture evenly over grits crust. Whisk together milk and remaining 6 eggs; pour over ham mixture. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheese evenly over egg mixture.
Bake at 400° for 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, and cut into wedges.
Quick-cooking grits are the ones that say “cooks in five minutes” or something similar. Regular grits can take up to twenty minutes to fully cook. Both have their uses.
The recipe originally called for chives to use as an optional garnish, but I didn’t want to fork over the extra buck or two for them (though I do love ’em). You can just as easily garnish with a few of the diced green onions if you really must.
As mentioned above, if you don’t have a deep-dish pie plate, you might want to opt for a casserole dish instead. Watch it closely to ensure your either baking the pie enough or not too much. One way to tell, a knife inserted in the center might be damp from the grits layer, but not reveal anything soupy – if that makes sense – and the pie will feel set and not jiggle at all.
Next time I might mince the garlic instead of merely crushing it, so that it infuses the grits layer a little better. They get very fragrant while cooking, but their taste was a little muted by the end.
I went ahead and tagged this one as gluten-free, but also know after doing a little research that gluten-free eaters sometimes have to be especially careful of buying products in stores due to possible cross-contamination. One forum I read up on the issue in had a lot of complaints about the Quaker brand in particular. If you eat them and are fine, great. If you’re unsure, Bob’s Red Mill has some gluten-free products and I believe they do have gluten-free grits. Just go with whatever your own, personal gluten-free gut tells you (as it also seems, like with most health issues, gluten-free people do not all have the same experiences).