Saturday, June 27, 2009

Breakfast Shepherd's Pie

I was doing the "refrigerator stare" Thursday night. You know, when you stand in front of your open fridge or pantry with a blank stare, seeking inspiration to make something out of what you already have. That's when I came up with the idea for "Breakfast Shepherd's Pie".

This is totally a work in progress, not really a recipe per se. But Alexis and I both agreed that it tastes unbelievably good and could be served either as a breakfast or dinner. Sorry about the picture. Something went totally screwy with my white balance.
1 cup grits, stone ground or coarse ground. Don't try subbing instant grits.
1 lb bulk pork sausage (breakfast sausage)
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1 cup shredded cheese

Make the grits according to directions. I used a 50/50 mix of chicken broth and water, instead of just the water called for in the directions.

While the grits are slowly cooking (25 minutes in our case), brown the sausage, onion, and pepper together in a saute pan. Strain, reserving the oil.Layer the bottom of a lightly greased, small casserole dish with the meat/veggie mixture. Top that with a nice quality cheese.Top that layer with the cooked grits and place in a 350f oven. We first tried 20 minutes (since everything was already cooked, thought it might be done) but the texture of the grits didn't hold. Put it back in for another 30 minutes or so and it was much better. Alexis pointed out that it may do perfectly if we cook & assemble the components, then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before popping it in the oven.

While the casserole is cooking, take 1/4 cup of the strained oil, add 1/4 cup of butter, and bring to medium heat. Slowly sift in about 1/2 cup of flour, whisking constantly to make a dark roux. You want to take it darker than you think you want it, which took about 15-20 minutes in my case. Whisk in about 1 cup of chicken broth to get a gravy the desired consistency that you want. Add in some ground pepper and fresh chopped herbs, I used about 4 sprigs of thyme.

This was fantastic tasting and hearty. It almost must be spiritually inspiring because Alexis kept saying, "Oh my God!" as she was eating it. I will definitely be taking a second attempt at this.