Distinctively Louisiana: Grits and Grillades

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Grits and Grillades, served as part of a potluck buffet brunch.

Grits and Grillades are a Louisiana tradition.  It is typically served as a brunch dish usually for a family get-together like Christmas morning or during Mardi Gras.

This is my husband’s family recipe. Don’t deviate! And, he always has to remind me, don’t add anything else!  No thyme, no tarragon, no wine, no wine vinegar (it’s not a German dish!)- just these ingredients!

Well, there is one small change I do at the end. I remove the meat and puree the sauce. This thickens it a little more without adding anymore flour, and gives a nice presentation of just meat and gravy.

Here is the original recipe as recorded by one of the aunts.

  • 2 pounds beef round steak
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • water and/or beef stock to cover
  • 1 can Ro-tel (Original) tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

Pound beef and cut into 2-3 inch pieces.  Flour both sides lightly and brown in a skillet (cast-iron or Magnalite, of course).  Remove and add seasoning.  Cook till wilted.  Add meat and 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes.  Cover meat with water or beef stock.  Simmer at least 1 hour or until meat is tender and gravy is thickened. (Add water or stock if needed during cooking.)  Adjust seasonings.

Make grits.  Keep warm.  Spoon grits on plate and grillades alongside. 

Great buffet dish.  Grated cheese and a touch of garlic can be added (to the grits).

While Aunt L. does not call for a bay leaf in her recorded recipe, she did have a bay laurel tree planted in her yard for the sole reason of getting the freshest bay leaves.  I’m pretty sure she used it in lots of things!

Before serving the grillades (or pureeing), make sure to remove the bay leaves.

To make the grits, follow the directions on the package.  We usually make garlic-cheese grits as that is the family tradition.  It is also tradition to use regular white grits, as that is pretty much all that was available for years and years and years.  However, now that stone-ground grits have been around awhile, a lot of people are using that.  I much prefer the yellow stone-ground grits as they actually taste like corn!  Also, if you are trying to eat local, a lot of Farmer’s Markets have stone-ground grits available now.

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Begin with a roast – this is a 4-pound bottom rump roast.

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Slice it into 1/2-inch thick slices, and then cut each slice into approximately 2-inch squares. Then, pound the hell out of them!

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This is what your roast will be reduced to. Don’t pound them too thin, they will fall apart.

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Flour and season them all. Toss well to coat.

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…like so.

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In an oil-coated cast iron skillet, brown each piece. I used two skillets and transferred them to a plate until all were browned.

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Dice your veggies, and saute them in the skillets that the meat was browned in. Add a little bit of water to help loosen all the browned bits. This is where the flavor is. Transfer everything to a large braising pot or slowcooker. Braise for 2 to 4 hours on the stove, in the oven or 12 hours on low in the slowcooker. Garlic is optional; I usually add it into the pot when the liquid is added. Burnt garlic is not a good taste. One can of Rotel Original tomatoes as well as a few bay leaves are traditional additionals.

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After braising in a slowcooker overnight (or all day), I remove the meat and puree the sauce with an immersion blender. This thickens the sauce naturally and makes a beautiful rich gravy. This is not traditional, but sure is good. It is at this point that you would season for salt and pepper. I usually add about a teaspoon of kosher salt as well as a teaspoon or two or Better than Bouillon beef concentrate.

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