October 17, 2010

Hearty Creole Grillades

The comfort of fall foods

Some folks turn to pumpkin bread or desserts, bean based chili or hearty meaty soups, while others stir around the kitchens roasting vegetables and simmering pots of delectable stews. Fall is certainly a time for comforting pleasures. I find no exception or reason to fall out of this pattern. Like many of you, I enjoy my time in the kitchen stirring up and reviving recipes that makes me feel good. Like the one today, I am at ease as can be with the more rustic if not pastoral dishes of our southern heritage.

Grillades are the fare at fancy restaurant brunches today, served late night at buffets for after-the-ball gatherings in past years and this upcoming one as well, and were on sharecroppers’ tables in yesteryear. The origin is questionable of who or where Grillades first made its way into our way of southern foods. Country butchers down in Bayou country saved scraps of meat while preparing the boucherie and fed folks during the day with this sauce laden meat dish, normally over rice. Or was the creation during the Creole era in New Orleans, when Mmes Begue and Esparbe prepared this over grits for riverfront market workers and fed the butchers, fishermen and farmers who had worked since daybreak and were in need of something filling for late breakfast or early lunch. Whenever or whoever, we should all be glad to be blessed with this humble meal made for all levels of the social hierarchy.

The preparation today differs too as to how to go about cooking the meat as well as the type of meat used. Looking back as to what is known of the history of Grillades, I suspect the tougher pieces of beef or pork were used and is why many recipes call for pounding the heck out each piece to tenderize it and in the long simmering method of cookery. Today’s restaurants might feature the tasty meat of veal, as it is easier and quicker to cook. It also will fetch a higher dollar on the menu. Ingredients vary too but the mainstay of flavor will always come from a good stock for the liquid, the holy trinity of onions, celery and bell pepper along with some form of tomato, fresh, canned or sauced. Seasonings vary widely form simple outright bland to spicy concoctions that will cause you to bite your tongue.

In today’s recipe, I’m using a cheap cut of beef and after beating the heck out of it, I’ll do the simple, time honored technique of a quick sauté to give way to the slow marriage of delectable flavors of fresh vegetables, a roux-based stock and mild spices to please any palate. And in staying within the boundaries of the Creole way, I’ll serve my Grillades over a creamy, baked casserole of grits. Enjoy!

Grillades, pronounced ‘Gree-yahds’ with a drawl or ‘Gree-odds’ without…

My Hearty Grillades

1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef shoulder or round steaks, about 1/2-inch thick
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup All-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings
1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3 large garlic pods, minced
1 bunch scallions (green onions) chopped, white and green divided
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef or veal stock, heated
1/2 cup red wine
1 -14.5 diced tomatoes or 3 large Creole tomatoes if in season
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Chopped parsley to garnish if desired

In a bowl, mix the salt with the next 7 spices.

Trim the meat of any fat and cut into 2-inch pieces. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mixture over the surface of the meat. Pound each piece with a mallet to about 1/4-inch thickness.

In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the flour with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix. Dredge each piece of meat in the flour to coat both sides.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Sear both sides of the meat until golden, about 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside.

Add the butter to the skillet, any left over seasoned flour and the other 1/2-cup of flour. Stir and cook the roux until medium brown scraping the bottom all while. Add the yellow onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and the white part of the scallions. Stir to incorporate and add the bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Reserve remaining seasoning mix for the rice or grits.

Add the stock to a large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat. When boiling, add the roux with vegetables one spoonful at a time stirring to dissolve each addition. Stir in the wine and bring back to a boil. Add the browned meat, the tomatoes and Worcestershire. Bring back to a simmer and turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 hours stirring every so often the bottom of the pot adding more stock or water as needed if the sauce becomes too thick. The last 5 or so minutes, stir in the remaining green part of the scallions.

Serve over white rice, stone ground grits or a nice, creamy casserole of grits (my next post) and with a sprinkle of parsley on top if desired.


  1. This recipe sounds like an extreme flavourful beef stew. Love the mixed in spices. Will definitely try this out. Thank you very much, dear Chef. Hope you're having a fabulous weekend.
    Cheers, Kristy

  2. Wow, there is a lot of love in this dish...Fall is my favorite season :)

  3. My mother always pounded the heck out of meat and the result was the most tender meat you have ever tasted! This dish reminds me of her Grillades and looks simply fabulous! Love the addition of the red wine, too. Cheers, cher!

  4. What a great way to celebrate fall. A steaming bowl of grillades would warm any heart!!

  5. Wowie, Drick! This is something I could go for at this moment.

    Love the background behind the dish, too!

  6. A different comfort food for me....amazing looking and diffinitely one to add to the list of must trys!

  7. Hey there, Drick!
    I know this is off topic, but I just tagged you in a "pass it on" post where you answer 8 questions about yourself. I hope that you'll play along by going here: Tag! You're Eight!!.
    BTW, I have a hankerin' for this dish!

  8. I am willing to trade anything with pumpkin for a dish of this. Comfort food, indeed!

  9. So much flavour! So comforting.

  10. great history, i love the feel of this dish, very comforting...perfect fall meal


  11. Ok, Drick, you made me go out of order :-) It's been kinda busy and I'm way behind on my recipe reading so I started at the top, just moseying my way down the list. Then, clear at the bottom I see your recipe. Yours are always some of the best. So, here I am out of order with my mouth watering. I've seen grillades on menus but never have seen a recipe. Sounds like they're just as happy over rice as they are over grits and since my hubby doesn't like grits, we'll try rice... but we'll for sure try these. Thanks!!! Kate @kateiscooking

  12. Well, doesn't this look good! Very similar to the kind of thing Italians would make with polenta. Great minds like alike, as they say!

  13. Speaking as the world's greatest grillades cook, I commend you on an excellent recipe. I have been experimenting with using dried mushrooms, to great effect. A friend does a variation on a sweetbread prep by using sliced olives (green in his grillades. Look into "grillades marinee" in Cajun country..a different approach, with pork.