Grits and Greens: Holiday breakfast for overnight guests

New Year’s day breakfast

After holiday nights indulging in sweets and alcohol, breakfast needs to be an antidote: hearty and umume, but also nourishing and comforting. Hot cereals like oatmeal or grits are warming to the core and carry us through the afternoon until we return tot he kitchen to prepare early festive suppers. On these days of celebrating two meals are enough – leaving a little room for nibbles from the many trays of cookies and candies both home-baked and gifted.

Christmas morning breakfast we made this breakfast, one of our favorite menus, a sort of rustic elegance (inspired by Susan Quillio of Spoonful Catering), flexible to the ingredients readily available to you, and can be made with animal products or vegan. It makes us so happy we repeated it a second morning, without guests.

About the hot cereal:

I don’t like to take too long getting breakfast ready while everyone drinks the first pot of coffee or tea. Grits are fast cooking, made savory with whatever flavors appeal to you – herbs, sharp or creamy cheeses (even blue cheese), chicken stock or other broths. Polenta is another luscious option, but it takes longer to simmer and open up, the slow stirring dissipates an initial bitterness. Make a batch the night before or set up a crock-pot to cook overnight. Consider making risotto for dinner the night before, then reheat with extra stock and stir in a sharp cheese to serve in place of grits.

Breakfast for 4 to 6

8 oz sliced shiitake mushroom, stems trimmed

1 T duck fat or olive oil

1/8 t sea salt

3-4 c chopped kale (or Swiss chard, spinach, collards, broccoli rabe – or a combination)

2 t olive oil Or 2 slices thick cut bacon, diced (optional)

1 c diced red or sweet onion

4 T water or broth

½ t red pepper flakes (optional)

Freshly grounded black pepper

4 – 6 c grits or polenta (cooked according to the package)*

½ c sharp cheddar

4 – 8 eggs

*If you prefer a vegan recipe, make the grits with soy or almond milk for extra creaminess and protein; add ¼c red or white quinoa to the pot while cooking.


Heat oven to 350.

Cook (or reheat) the hot cereal – grits, polenta or risotto – on the stove, according to the package. Consider using stock, soy or almond milk; add ¼ c of red quinoa for enriched protein.

Meanwhile: Toss shiitake mushrooms with 1 T of oil or fat and salt, when they are well coated, place on a cookie sheet one layer deep. Place in hot oven and roast for 15 minutes, stirring twice to prevent sticking or burning. You will cook them until they are just beginning into crisp or turning golden.

Meanwhile: chop the kale (or other greens) and dice the onion. Heat 1T fat (olive oil or bacon fat) in a large skillet.  If you are using diced bacon, you don’t need to add additional fat. Cook the onions and optional diced bacon until translucent. Add kale and stir to coat with the fat, then cook on low, stirring occasionally. Kale will wilt and darken. Add water or broth and cover to steam.

When mushrooms are starting to crisp and turn golden you can begin to cook the eggs. For larger groups, heat two skillets or use a pancake skillet to fry the very fresh eggs. Heat the skillet and brush with butter or other fat. When the pan is hot, add eggs – if serving one per person, leave space for the whites to spread a little. If you are serving two eggs per person you can let them run together in pairs.

To serve: I like to serve this in warmed wide low bowls, with a scoop of grits, strewn with a portion of kale around the grits, place eggs on top and finish with hot shiitake mushrooms. Garnish with chopped parsley or a shave of your chosen cheese.

Set the table with toasted English muffins or scones and a selection of gift jams.


About barbaraprice

Artist, Food writer, book editor, gardener
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