Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole

2 pounds sausage (regular or hot)

4 cups water

1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits, uncooked

4 cups (1 pound) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp garlic powder

4 large eggs, lightly beaten


Brown sausage in a large skillet, stirring until it crumbles. Drain well, and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add cheese and next 3 ingredients, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in sausage and eggs.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish; sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 hour or until golden and heated. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Make-Ahead: Prepare grits mixture as directed above, but do not bake. Cover and chill overnight. Remove from refrigerator; let stand, covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake as directed.