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When Meg Bickford was growing up, she often woke up on Sunday mornings to the scent of her mother’s grillades and grits simmering away on the stove. The savory Creole dish features saucy braised veal spooned over velvety grits, often served for breakfast or brunch. When Bickford became the first female executive chef to helm the historic New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace, she added her own version of grillades and grits to the menu. The warming dish is perfect for feeding a crowd during Mardi Gras festivities—or any time of year.

The rendition Bickford serves at Commander’s Palace uses the whey from the restaurant’s Creole cream cheese to substitute half of the milk. To get a similar result, substitute the butter in the grits with Creole cream cheese, traditional cream cheese, or crème fraiche.


Featured in “In New Orleans, Celebratory Mardi Gras Foods Capture the Spirit of Sharing.”

Yield: serves 4
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the grillades:

  • 12 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. veal cutlet, pounded ¼-in. thin
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced (1½ cups)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1¾ cups)
  • 2 small celery stalks, thinly sliced on the bias (1 cup)
  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced (¾ cup)
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly slices (5 cups)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced (3 Tbsp.)
  • 5 cups veal stock, or substitute low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped (½ cup)
  • Thinly sliced scallions or celery greens, for garnish

For the grits:

  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 12 small yellow onion, finely chopped (⅓ cup)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup stone-ground white grits
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. To a large bowl, add the flour and season lightly with salt and black pepper.
  2. To a large heavy pot or a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until the foam subsides and the solids have lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  3. Season the veal cutlets all over with salt and black pepper, and then dust in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer half of the meat to the pot and cook until browned on one side, about 2½ minutes. Flip and continue cooking on the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, then add another tablespoon of butter; once melted, brown the remaining cutlets and transfer to the plate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pot; once it has melted, stir in the bell pepper, onion, celery, leek, and garlic, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, then cover and cook until the vegetables have softened slightly, about 4 minutes. Remove the lid, then stir in the mushrooms; continue cooking, uncovered and stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 15–20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the stock, again scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot, then increase the heat to high to bring to a boil. Add the reserved veal and the tomatoes to the pot, making sure the meat is fully submerged. Bring back to a boil and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, and the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the grits: Set a medium pot over medium-high heat and add 1½ teaspoons of the butter. Once melted, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, add the milk, and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in the grits, bring back up to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits just begin to thicken, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes more. Stir in the remaining butter, then season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  7. Divide the grits between 4 medium plates. Ladle over the grillades, top with sliced scallions or celery greens, and serve hot.

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