BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK
CREOLE BEEF GRILLADES AND CHEESE GRITS
Tres speciale NOLA chef John Besh describes a grillade as a traditional beef or veal round cut into a square and then pounded thin to be tender. Beef round is the most suitable cut for this dish, he says.
I’m sure every restaurant has its own take on grillades, but this one is mine on Besh, which one can expect is delicious. Merci, chef.
As for my experience with this recipe:
Place meat cuts between sheets of plastic wrap and pound a bit before you dredge in flour. I didn’t and am sorry for the mistake.
Also, unless you have a very large skillet with a lid, I recommend browning the meat in your best regular size skillet, cooking the sauce in a large dutch oven and then transferring the deglazed contents (using a cup of the beef broth) of your meat skillet into the dutch oven. This sounds like trouble but it’s only one more pot to wash. It also will mean you are more likely to get your meat to brown nicely, instead of just cook in the deeper dutch oven (another of my mistakes).
I also reduced the “heat” ingredients too much but bumped them back up slightly in this recipe. Live and learn.
One other suggestion: Get everything diced and sliced before you begin. Much less chaos and a much neater kitchen.
- cutting board
- plastic wrap
- chopping knife
- electric knife
- measuring equipment
- frying utensils
- large wooden spoon
- large casserole dish for flour
- meat pounder (I actually have a kitchen mallet)
- skillet or dutch oven (As I said above, if you have a really large skillet with lid, this will do. But I don’t know if many of us do. See above advice.)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEEF GRILLADES
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon. cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- one 3-pound beef shoulder, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick cutlets
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rendered bacon fat, or 1 stick unsalted butter (I took a frozen side of bacon and cut about 4 slices off each end to make “lardons” to fry slowly for bacon fat.)
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 small red or green bell pepper, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes with juices
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (heat adjuster)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- hot sauce (heat adjuster)
LET’S GET STARTED
To make the Creole spices, mix the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano and thyme. (I slightly reduced Besh’s cayenne/pepper flakes. Let this cook and adjust toward the end, if you want it spicier.)
Slice meat into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
Place each between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound briefly into a thinner, more tender piece.
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the flour with the Creole spices, and reserve 1/4 cup.
Put the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour in a large, shallow bowl, and then dredge the beef in the flour (that means place the meat into the spiced flour and coat all over), shaking off the excess. Set the coated beef onto a baking sheet.
Heat the bacon bits/rendered bacon fat or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat (If you’re using butter, you may want to add 1/4 olive oil to lessen the possibility this will burn). If you’re cooking bacon, lift it out when it’s brown and reserve.
Cook the cutlets until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to cook in batches of 3-5 at a time, depending on the size of your pan. If the meat is too crowded in the pan, it will steam and won’t brown properly. Set aside the cooked cutlets on a paper towel–lined plate or footed metal cooling rack.
Into skillet, pour 1 cup beef broth and deglaze and scrape skillet (which loosens all the fried stuff from the pan bottom).
(If you’re using a dutch oven, here’s where that part starts.) Add the onions (and pour in the skillet mixture), lower the heat to medium, and cook until, as Chef Besh says, the onions are a deep mahogany color, about 10 minutes.
Add the celery, bell peppers and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved seasoned flour to the pan and mix well. This little roux will thicken the sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and beef stock to the pan and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf and Worcestershire sauce. Return the beef cutlets to the pan. Add cooked bacon bits.
Cover and simmer 45-60 minutes, or until the meat is fork-tender. Discard the bay leaf. Add hot sauce to taste and more salt and pepper as desired. Serves 6-8.
Serve individual plates from the stove or use chafing dishes or large serving dishes for guests to serve themselves. If you’re serving from the stove, first pour the grits on the plate, then mound 2-3 grillades onto at least half the grits, top with sauce, then sprinkle scallions on top.
- measuring equipment
- large covered saucepan
- 2 scallions (green parts only), finely chopped, for garnish
- coarse salt
- 1 cup stone-ground white corn grits*
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone or cream cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Edam or Swiss cheese
* If you use faster cooking grits or polenta, follow the cooking time on the box. Just don’t use “instant” grits – it is gross and never the choice of any respectable cook.
LET’S GET STARTED
For stone-ground grits: In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 5 cups of salted water to a boil while slowly whisking in the grits.
Reduce the heat to medium low; cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the grits aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat to low if the grits are cooking too quickly.
Remove the cooked grits from the heat and stir in the butter, mascarpone or cream cheese, and grated cheese. Season with salt to taste and serve warm.
Come back every Wednesday for “Southfacin’ cook” at New in NOLA for Patsy’s basics to Southern cooking and eating. Contact her with suggestions, questions or requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous recipes from Patsy: