Creole Grillades & Cheddar Grits

Creole Grillades & Cheddar Grits

Creole Grillades & Cheddar grits is one of the best known dishes in the repertoire of classic New Orleans cuisine. The dish, originally served with white rice, has been around the Big Easy for almost 200 years. Thin slices of veal or beef eye round (we use beef) are slow-braised stovetop in lots of chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, tomato, and beef broth until the flavors meld together in a savory, perfectly seasoned taste experience you’ll never forget. Served over piping hot, garlic-infused stone ground grits, these Creole Grillades and Cheddar Grits need only a slice of crusty french bread and a salad to make for the perfect weekend or company meal.

A traditional dish…

Oddly enough, Creole Grillades & Cheese Grits started life in the early 1800’s as a kind of poor man’s breakfast. Cheaper cuts of meat, such as lean round steaks, were slow-simmered in vegetables until tender, then served over rice. Over time, this dish evolved into a popular brunch dish (served in a chafing dish on the buffet) along with a rich side of grits baked with eggs, butter and cheese. Especially popular during Mardi Gras season, virtually every Queen’s Supper features this dish, scaled up to serve hundreds.

Salting the beef ahead of time is crucial!

Eye round is an inexpensive and lean cut of beef often disdained by chefs. In the early days, Creole Grillades & Prepared right, this cut of beef can be delicious.

  • Ideally, you should salt the beef slices and let them sit in the fridge all day (or even overnight). Even a couple of hours in the fridge will work wonders. I’m not sure of the science, but I do know this process tenderizes the meat and avoids the necessity of having to simmer the dish for hours
  • Many cooks also pound the slices with a meat mallet before cooking, and have at it if you own such a tool! 
  • Of course, if you can find veal round steak (or a shoulder of veal) and want to shell out the money, it will be absolutely delicious! Just be sure to reduce the cooking time when replacing beef with veal.

Do not use pre-sliced round steak!

Resist the urge to grab those pre-sliced thin slices of top round or sirloin, they’ll be tough and less flavorful. Purchase a whole eye of round, trim the excess layer of fat, and slice it yourself into ½ inch slices. It takes less than 5 minutes and will give you fresher, more tender meat.

Organize your time!

As always, organizing your time makes everything flow easily.

Slice your beef in the morning (or the night before) if cooking for dinner. Salt it and get it in the fridge. (Don’t worry, though, It won’t be a disaster if you can’t do this, even a couple of hours will help. 

If you have time during the day, dice all your vegetables and put them in bowls until ready to use. If not, this will be your first step in the cooking process. When ready to saute, gather all of your utensils and ingredients so you don’t have to stop and frantically search for something.

When ready to start cooking, sauté the beef slices and place on a platter. Then sauté your vegetables. Add the tomato paste and beef broth, return the beef slices to the skillet, and simmer for at least an hour.

While the meat simmers, make your grits. If using stone-ground, they’ll take 45 minutes or so.

Go all out for company! Lighten up for every day!

There are a ton or recipes out there for really incredible baked cheese grits, most of them calling for eggs, extra butter, milk and even cream cheese (hats off to you, John Besh!). We find the grillades are rich enough on their own and like to keep the grits simple. But if you want to wow your guests with a super-yummy, over-the-top meal, after boiling the grits, add 4 tablespoons butter, ½ cup milk or half and half, one beaten egg, and 6 oz. more cheese. Pour into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

If you want to lighten up this dish for a weeknight meal (as we often do), forget the grits and serve the grillades with rice or noodles. Still scrumptious!

Tips & Tricks for Making Creole Grillades & Cheese Grits

  • Be sure to salt your meat ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge either in the morning if you’re having it for dinner, or even the night before. The salt will tenderize the meat and infuse it with extra flavor!
  • Keep the beef slices as dry as possible. Blot them with a paper towel before salting, and again before they go in the sauté pan. This ensures they sauté up crisp and don’t simply steam in the pan.
  • To seed the tomato, core it, then quarter it. Use a knife or spoon to scoop out the seeds and excess liquid. Nobody wants watery grillades!

Creole Grillades & Cheddar Grits

June 8, 2021
: 4-6
: 20 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: 1 hr 30 min
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Dried thyme
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced, any color (I use red and green) (1 medium pepper = ½ cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (about ¼ cup)
  • 5-6 green onions, diced, white and green parts divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 3 heaping tbsps. tomato paste
  • 1 large Creole tomato (or 2 plum tomatoes), seeded, cored, and diced
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth (we use Better than Bouillon Beef Base)
Directions
  • Step 1 Prep your meat as early as possible, even as early as the night before. Slice the eye of round roast into ½ inch slices with a sharp knife.
  • Step 2 Blot the slices with a paper towel and place on a platter lined with another paper towel. Generously salt both sides, then sprinkle with cracked pepper, dried thyme and garlic powder. Cover with a paper towel and refrigerate.
  • Step 3 Take out an hour before cooking to allow meat to come to room temperature.
  • Step 4 Prep your veggies. Dice the onion, bell pepper, celery, green onion, and mince and/or peel the garlic. Hull, core, and seed the tomato. Dice the tomato and place in a separate bowl.
  • Step 5 Dust both sides of the meat slices with a thin coating of flour (sprinkle flour on surface and lightly rub to coat).
  • Step 6 Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or other heavy skillet or Dutch oven until shimmering hot. Saute meat slices 3-4 minutes on one side until golden brown, then flip and saute on the other side 2-3 minutes. Remove meat to a platter. (You may need to work in two batches).
  • Step 7 Add a splash of oil to pan, and saute the onions, bell pepper, and celery until softened (about 4 minutes). Scrape up the brown bits to incorporate. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute.
  • Step 8 Add two tablespoons of flour, stir to incorporate, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about another 2-3 minutes.
  • Step 9 Add the tomato paste, spreading and stirring it until incorporated into the veggie mixture.
  • Step 10 Add the meat slices to the pan, including any juices. Nestle them in the vegetables, add the beef broth, then bring to a boil. Partially cover the pan, leaving about an inch open, then lower to a simmer and cook at least an hour and 15 minutes.
  • Step 11 While beef is simmering, stir grits into boiling, salted water. Lower heat, cover, and simmer according to package directions (can take up to 45 minutes). Grits are done when all the liquid has been incorporated and they have a creamy consistency (check a couple of times while cooking to make sure you don’t over cook).
  • Step 12 When grits are done, add remaining ingredients.
  • Step 13 Serve grillades over the grits and enjoy!