"Grillade" is one of those Creole dishes that sounds highfalutin but really isn't. True, only a "certain'' type of Southerner could afford to eat such a dish until others started moving' on up, and beef, in general, does not feature prominently in traditional soul food. But this dish is definitely soulful and it is is traditionally served with grits. The standard recipe calls for a peppers, roux and heavy gravy - I have opted for a braise with woodier herbs and vegetables which creates a rich sauce. Folks in New Orleans are hard wired to be able to eat a plate of this succulent dish for breakfast and then get on with their day. The rest of us mere mortals should save this for a night when the dishes can wait until the next morning so we can doze off with our feet up.
For the Steak:
2 1/2 lbs. grass fed, beef top round, cut into 1/2 inch steaks
2 tsp. sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tbsp. organic, unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. bacon fat
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped, leaves included
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
5 roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tbsp. organic tomato paste
Bouquet Garni (4 fresh sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 4 sprigs fresh oregano. Tie together in to a bundle with kitchen string)
2 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cup sulfite-free red wine
2 cups chicken bone broth or stock, heated
1. Toss together flour and one teaspoon of the salt. Sprinkle evenly all over the steaks.
2. Heat olive oil and bacon fat in a heavy bottom dutch oven over medium high heat until it shimmers.
3. Lay as many of the steaks in the pot in a single layer as you can fit without them touching each other. Brown well on both sides. Place browned steaks on a platter and cover with foil. Continue to brown meat in batches. Do not let them burn.
4. Check how much oil is in the pot and pour off all but a little more than one tablespoon. Return to heat.
5. Add garlic and onion to the pot, stirring until onions are slightly brown.
6. Stir in the mushrooms, followed by the celery, carrots, and cloves.
7. Add the tomato paste and stir until all the vegetables are coated. Cook for a minute or two to let it darken.
8. Pour in the wine and tomatoes. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any bits.
9. Add the steaks to the pot. Nestle in the bouquet garni. Pour in the bone broth or stock to cover the meat.
10. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 hours.
11. Carefully remove the steaks from the pot and set on a platter. Set a small to medium wire colander over a medium sauce pan. Pour the juices and remaining contents from the pot through the colander, pressing on the solids to squeeze as much liquid as you can into the pan.
11. Place the steaks back into the dutch oven and pour over the strained gravy. Cover to keep warm. Serve over hot grits.
Grits are best when kept simple. I prefer organic coarse ground yellow grits, but for certain recipes I'll go for white coarse ground. If you are patient and ambitious, grits made from heirloom corn is well worth the effort.
4 cups water
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup organic, stone ground grits
1. Bring water, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a boil in a heavy, medium sized saucepan.
2. Slowly stir in the grits with a wooden spoon.
3. Cover and reduce heat to low-medium - barely simmering. Stir frequently.
4. When all of the liquid is absorbed, add 1/2 of the milk. Simmer for about another 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
5. Add the rest of the milk. Stir in and let cook for about another 30 minutes until milk is absorbed and the grits are fluffy.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining butter and a sprinkle of black pepper. You may add a 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese or 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast for cheese flavor.