The New Year is here! Happy New Year! Black-eyed peas are just one of the traditional foods eaten in the South on New Years Day. It is usually accompanied by corned beef (for fortune) and cabbage (for wealth). In our house, the corned beef never lasts long. By day two, it has already been consumed as a Reuben! The one head of cabbage that started as a mammoth load in the skillet, got smothered down along with some carrots and has already been enjoyed over cornbread.
Then there are the black-eyed peas. Like most peas or beans, a small batch is virtually impossible to make. By now, I have already eaten so many black-eyed peas for prosperity in the New Year, I am sure to win the lottery! (Black-eyed peas are said to bring prosperity since the seeds resemble coins and swell when cooked.) I grew up eating black-eyed peas over rice, which is my favorite way. But there is one more way to enjoy black-eyed peas that I look forward to each year. In fact, eating the last of the leftover black-eye peas has become a tradition for hubby and me–a black-eyed pea brunch, not exactly what you see on brunch menus!
This recipe came to me one year while being snowed in our cabin in North Carolina. We were enjoying a Bloody Mary and thinking brunch. Actually, we were thinking if we could get out to brunch, where would we go? We had grits and leftover black-eyed peas and I had plenty of time on my hands to get creative! Thus, the start of our tradition! Black-eyed Peas over Grit Cakes
Before we get started, you will need a regular size muffin tin. If you don’t have one, you can use a round or square cake pan. A muffin tin will save you some work later. (Even a mini muffin tin would work!) Line the whole muffin tin with parchment paper, microwave safe plastic wrap,
or cupcake liners sprayed with non-stick spray. My preference is plastic wrap.
Jalapeno Cheese Grit Cakes: Let’s begin by making a batch of your favorite grits. We all have our favorite grits recipe. What is yours? Do you like to add milk, water, cream? You can use quick cooking but I don’t recommend instant. To give you an idea, I used 2 cups water to 1/2 cup grits. This will make 6 grit cakes. No, I don’t usually use all water when making my grits, but hubby was in the kitchen and I had no covert operation in plan to distract him. (He will not eat anything that he “sees” me putting milk or eggs into!) Usually, I add half milk and half cream!!
When whisking (whisking is best method) the grits into the water also add seasoning-Cajun seasoning or onion and garlic powder. Then add:
Put the muffin tin into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Do the same if using cake pan
NOTE: You can do this step the night before.
Remove pan from fridge. Invert grits onto a working mat. Remove plastic wrap.
If you used a muffin tin, you’re good to go. Used a cake pan? You have some more work to do. Invert grits onto a cutting board. Use a knife and cut grits into squares or triangles. You can also use a 2-inch biscuit cutter.
Now let’s set up a breading station: For a quick how-to, see Classic Casserole Soup post http://wp.me/p57UhS-7s. (We made onion rings!)
Station 1: Flour seasoned with red pepper or paprika
Station 2: Egg wash (One egg whisked with 2 TBSP water, milk, or cream) Hubby watching or want more flavor? Use chicken broth, instead!
Station 3: Bread Crumbs (Seasoned or plain)
The grit cakes can be pan-fried or oven fried. Usually, how hungry we are dictates which method.
For oven fried, set oven temperature for 350 degrees. Rub olive oil on both sides and place on foiled line baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip. Bake another 30 minutes! Set aside.
For pan-fried, put a shallow layer of oil in skillet. (I use canola). Heat over medium heat until you drop a few bread crumbs in and they start to sizzle. (I am not one to use a temperature gauge!) Fry about 2 minutes per side. If you like them crispy, fry another minute per side! Set aside.
Now the grit cakes are done and smelling delightful! Try to refrain from eating them plain…well, maybe just one!
Reheat your black-eyed peas. (I use a microwave.) Put a spoon of black-eyed peas on a plate, top with grit cake, then top with a ladle of black-eyed peas. We like ours with a little drizzle of hot sauce. (Chili sauce works well, too) My black-eyed peas are full of ham, so I do not add anything extra. You could add crispy bacon or cooked sausage crumbled on top! You could also make it a vegetarian dish!
That’s it! Enjoy your brunch! (They are especially tasty with a Bloody Mary!)
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What other flavors would be good in the grits? Green peppers? Roasted red peppers? What other spices or cheese? For example, thyme, sage, or Swiss? Think about what goes into your black-eyed peas or what you enjoy with them. What other toppings would work well with this jalapeno grit cake. For example, this grit cake is my go-to for leftover chicken, shrimp, or crawfish etouffee or creole!
FOOD FUN: Did you know there is a “grits belt”? No, not one you need to loosen after eating too many grit cakes! It’s a stretch of the U.S. from Texas to Virginia that is called the “grits belt”, since the majority of grits are sold in this area! Have you ever visited a grist mill? They are plenty of traditional grist mills still operating. Do a little research to find one near you. Taking a vacation? Try to find one on your route and learn the history. Buy some fresh ground grits to have when you get home. You will be in for a treat! Do even better, plan a visit to St. George, South Carolina, (near Charleston) in the Spring for The World Grits Festival. More grits are eaten there per capita than any other place in the world! You can even roll around in a pool of grits!