Grillades over creamy luscious grits… This quintessential marvel is such a sensation down south that New Orleanians are smitten over a bowlful! Grillands are Creole in soul, where medallions of meat are pan-fried and then gently braised in a rich tomato based gravy. Once fork tender, they are generously spooned over creamy grits and often topped with a sprinkling of parsley or scallions, and sometimes a poached egg. This very regional classic is devoured equally during festivities like Mardi Gras and on regular days with the same gusto. Are you aware of Grillades? If you like Creole food, you are in for a love affair that might last for a lifetime.
Since most of you might not be aware of grillades… how about knowing a little about cuisines of our south.
What is Creole vs Cajun?
Louisiana… Home to precious cuisines like Creole and Cajun. They both seem to blend well together, but are distinctly different. Creole is more of a city food, while Cajun is mostly from the country.
Creole historically refers to descendants of the French and Spanish colonial settlers of New Orleans, identifying themselves as French Creole. As Africans were introduced to the city by wealthy slave owners, the Creole cuisine expanded to black New Orleans as well. Thus, modern Creole food evolved from a variety of cultures.
The Cajuns were French colonists originally from Canada’s Acadia region and mostly settled in rural areas of Louisiana.
The cuisines that developed from all these far spread cultures is very unique and flavorful and use lots of fresh produce, meats and a variety of exotic spices. Creole dishes tend to be more soupy and tomato based compared to Cajun food.
Both cuisines are famous for their heavy-handed spicing of dishes. But most of their spices, like paprika and thyme, are bold and not spicy. So probably the correct way to say it is they are well seasoned. 🙂
If that sounds like your kind of food, a great base is my Homemade Creole Seasoning. It only takes five minutes and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.
What are Grillades?
The French word grillade (pronounced as Gree-yahd) means grill and usually pertains to meat. Well in Louisiana, grillades have nothing to do with your grill. Fried medallions of meat are simmered in a roux-based gravy boosted by tomatoes, onions, celery and peppers. Not only that, but this dish also has generous amounts of herbs, spices, hot sauce and a dash of red wine. Simmer it long and slow till the meat is melt in your mouth tender. It’s Creole after all.
There is no definitive answer to how grillades came into existence. And nobody really knows the origins of it. But of course there are many speculations and myths about how this French sounding southern classic was born. Because whether you were a dock worker or a high society bruncher in New Orleans in the 1880’s, you chowed down on grillades & grits.
The simplicity and nature appealed to both rich and poor. It could be made with expensive veal or cheap tough cuts of beef or pork, braised for hours into tender submission.
By the late 1880’s, grillades got so popular that they were on nearly every brunch menu in the city. This “sailor’s breakfast” of meat over grits was cooked in modest homes and served in the most affluent houses as well. The “brunch” concept started in New Orleans for the city’s dock workers. Most workers finished work by 10am and they still wanted breakfast, so boarding houses down by the docks created a second breakfast. And voila, it’s easy to guess what dish they all wanted.
What cut of meat to use?
This dish is not limited to any one type of meat or cut. Typically, fattier cuts of meat are best for stews. But these grillades are beaten flat before cooking, which helps tenderize even drier, tougher cuts of meat. That being said, for today’s recipe I am using beef top round, AKA London broil. Pork loin or veal are also great options.
For the grillades
- Flour – To coat the beef medallions, as well as to create that rich roux base for the gravy.
- Veggies – Onion + celery + bell peppers, considered as “the holy trinity” of Creole and Cajun cooking. Also tomatoes, which makes it more Creole than Cajun.
- Garlic – We love plenty.
- Red wine – Teetotalers can use red wine vinegar instead.
- Beef broth – The base for the gravy.
- Herbs & spices – Bay leaves, thyme, oregano, chili flakes & Creole seasoning.
- Hot sauce
- Butter and oil
- Parsley and scallion – For garnish.
- Grits – Preferably slow cook.
- Milk – Some use just water, but we like our grits extra creamy.
- Cheese – Sharp cheddar today.
How to make this southern classic
Cut the meat into 2 inch cubes and pound them with a mallet. Some skip this step and just cut the meat thinner, or use fattier cuts.
Dredge the medallions in flour seasoned with Creole seasoning and salt. Fry them in a pan long enough to brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Now it’s time for that “holy trinity”, your onions, celery and peppers. Add them to the pan and sauté until onions are translucent. Add in your garlic and give it a stir. Next, add in the butter and flour. This is going to be the base for the roux. Stir nicely till the vegetables are nicely coated.
Slowly pour in the broth, constantly stirring so it doesn’t get lumpy. Add tomatoes, wine, herbs and spices and mix everything well. Add the meat back in, cover and simmer at least 1.5 hours.
Serve over hot, cheesy grits (see recipe card)… Look at that plate. Who wouldn’t like to dig into that bowl of flavors that’s been simmering for hours. It’s so satisfying and comforting to savour every single spoonful.
- As mentioned above, different cuts of meat can be used. Experiment!
- Besides grits, it’s also quite common to top the grillades on a plateful of rice.
- Try different cheeses in your grits for different flavors. Some of our favorites are bleu cheese and smoked Gouda.
If you are gravy lovers (I know you have been eyeing all the photos drooling), this is for you. This is the one for when you have time to cook that special meal for your family. Saying that, the actual hands on work is just 30 minutes. The rest of the time you can just relax watching it simmer in anticipation of a full bowl of this New Orleans Grillades over grits… Bookmark or pin this regional classic, you are going to love this one!
Grillades ‘n’ Grits, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 1.5 lbs top round, cut into 2" cubes then beaten to 1/2" thick
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Creole seasoning
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1.5 cups beef broth
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 tsp Creole seasoning
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1 cup grits
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.5 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Cut meat into 2" cubes. Pound with a mallet until they are about 1/2" thick.
- Combine 1/2 cup flour, 2 tsp Creole seasoning and 1 tsp salt and spread on a plate. Dredge meat medallions in flour mixture.
- Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat.
- Place medallions in hot oil and fry until browned on each side. If necessary, cook in batches rather than overcrowding.
- Remove to plate and set aside.
- In same pan, add remaining 1 Tbsp oil. Add chopped onions, celery and bell pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, stir and cook an additional minute.
- Reduce heat to medium and push vegetables to one side of the pan. Add butter and once it is melted stir in flour to form a roux. Mix vegetables into roux mixture.
- Slowly add beef broth, stirring continuously to avoid clumping.
- Add wine, tomatoes, Creole seasoning, red chili flakes, salt, thyme, oregano, hot sauce and bay leaves. and mix everything together well.
- Place grillades in gravy and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1.5 hours.
- Bring water, milk and salt to a low boil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Stir frequently to avoid milk scorching on bottom of pan.
- Slowly stir in grits to avoid clumping.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for time indicated on package, stirring occasionally, until grits are cooked. If they get to thick, add in more water.
- Once cooked, stir in shredded cheese.
Serve grillades with generous amounts of gravy over grits and garnish with parsley and scallions.
Experiment with different types and cuts of meat. With something fattier, such as beef stew meat or pork shoulder, you can skip the pounding step and just cut meat to 1/2 inch thick medallions.
You can substitute Creole seasoning with Cajun seasoning. Though the Cajun is spicier, I find them pretty interchangeable.
Be aware of the sodium content of your Creole seasoning. You may want to avoid using extra salt, depending on your mix. We have ruined a few meals overdoing something something too salty! For this recipe, we used a mixture that had 135g sodium per 1/4 tsp, which is on the lower end for commercial Creole seasonings. Remember, the lower the sodium content of your mix, the more control you have.
Try different cheeses in your grits. Blue cheese goes beautifully here. Smoked Gouda is another favorite.
We always recommend slow cook grits, they are much creamier. Since your grillades take some time to cook, there's no need to cheat with quick-cook grits!
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 648Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 147mgSodium 2089mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 48g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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