January 10th, 2012

Grits and Grillades

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In early November, on one of those rare days when the skies roll out wide and blue and the sun shines with the strength of summer, Maggie and I took a day trip to Falls Mill. Located in Belvidere Tennessee, it’s about a hundred miles from home, and over a hundred years back in time.

There, in the bend of a creek, by a rushing cascade, sits a grist mill built in 1873. Outside, a great water wheel churns, powering a system of belts and pulleys that drive huge cutting stones inside the mill. From inside, emanate the slow, almost groaning sounds of the stones in deliberate rotation, a bass line to the melody of water rippling over rocks, falling in sheets from the mill buckets.

And, inside are bins filled with the results: unbolted yellow and white cornmeal and grits. In an adjacent room, a 19th century press is poised to print a stack of white sacks, soon to be filled with those prized grinds.

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Jane and John Lovett own and operate Falls Mill, and have earned a reputation for their extraordinary milling. Sustainable practices–from the pure water-driven power to the sourcing of local, chemical-free grains, are part of what makes this so. The milling stones themselves hold the key. Unlike commercial steel rollers which smash the grain and adulterate it due to increased friction and heat, these stones slice the grain, leaving more texture, nutrients, and taste intact.

Chefs and cooks across the country who value that difference order from Falls Mill–especially the white corn grits. They are……..grittier! in the best possible way.

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I’ve been having a lot of fun working with their products, baking wonderful cornbread and corncakes, buttermilk spoonbread, and rich grits casseroles. The difference in texture and taste is delightfully Huge.

Today I’m sharing a couple of easy recipes that together make a New Orleans-style dish, often enjoyed for brunch, but good anytime.

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Toasted garlic, brown butter, white cheddar and pinch of cayenne combine with these pearly Falls Mill grits to make a luscious casserole.

And, then, the Grillades: (pronounced Gree-yahds)

The grillades are often made with a cheaper cut of beef, such as round steak—but it is acceptable, by NOLA standards, to use pork. Browned and then braised with tomatoes, spice, and the “Trinity” ( onions, bell peppers, celery) it’s a Creole take on stew: hearty and delicious with the grits.

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There’s nothing new or surprising about the method. There’s a modest assembly of ingredients. The pieces of meat are pounded, dredged, and browned.

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A saute of tomatoes and “The Trinity” form the foundation for the grillades to finish in a long simmer. To add some savory toasted depth, you can make a quick roux, using the leftover seasoned flour. Cook it in a skillet with a little butter and vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, as it acquires a medium brown sheen. Stir in water or broth, and add to the Tomato-Trinity saute.

Grillades, like stews, improve with time.

These fabulous grits, though, are creamy perfection, right out of the oven.

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TOASTED GARLIC GRITS
2-3 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 1/2 T. Butter
2 cups Water
1/2 t. Salt
1/4 t. Black Pepper
dash or two Cayenne
1/2 cup Stone Ground Grits
1 Egg
1/4 c. Half and Half
1/2 c. shredded White Cheddar

Melt butter in a 2 qt. saucepan on medium heat and sauté minced garlic until it becomes toasty golden brown. Add water. Stir in grits. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for about 20 minutes—grits will become creamy. Remove from heat. Stir in half of the shredded white cheddar.

Beat egg with half-and-half. Beat mixture into cooked—and slightly cooled grits. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Dust with remaining shredded cheddar.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
Serves 3-4

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PORK GRILLADES

1 lb. boneless Pork, cut into chunks, trimmed, pounded (the “grillades”)
Seasoned Flour Mixture: 1/3 c. All Purpose Flour, 1/2 t. Salt, 1/2 t. Black Pepper, pinch Cayenne, 1/4 t. Paprika, 1/4 t. Granulated Garlic
2 T. Vegetable Oil
1 T. Butter
1/2 c. each Diced Onion, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, Celery (aka “The Cajun Trinity”)
1 t. Fresh Thyme
1 can Tomatoes (whole or diced) and Juice
1 1/2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1 t. Louisiana Hot Sauce
1-2 T. Quick Roux
1/2 c. Water or Broth (chicken or vegetable)

Dredge the grillades in the seasoned flour and shake off excess. Reserve unused flour mixture to make quick roux.

In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Brown the grillades well on both sides, a few at a time. Transfer the grillades to a plate. When finished, melt butter over medium heat in the same skillet, scraping any browned bits from the meat. Add the Onions, Bell Pepper, Celery, and Garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft. Stir in Worcestershire, Tomatoes and their juice, fresh thyme.

Make quick roux:

In a separate skillet, melt 1 T. Butter with 1 T. vegetable oil. Add the remaining seasoned flour mixture and stir well, dissolving the flour. On low heat, cook the flour mixture until it becomes toasty brown. Add water or broth and stir well, until thickened. Pour into the other skillet, and fold into the tomato-vegetable meld.

Return the grillades to the skillet. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. Taste for seasoning, and add a few dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce to deepen the mild heat.

Serves 3-4

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Posted in Casseroles, Egg/Cheese Dishes, Meats/Poultry, Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes

31 Responses to “Grits and Grillades”
  1. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Oh my goodness, that close up shot of the spoon of grits looks heavenly.

  2. Tammy Says:

    Oh Nancy! Cheesy garlic grits just aren’t on my new year eating plan but they do look divine! What a fun trip to the mill too.

  3. Christy Says:

    Wow, looks really good!:D

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy-they shouldn’t be on my new year eating plan either—but duty calls! (part of research for an article for a food mag) they are indeed divine

  5. Maggie Says:

    Nance, this does look divine! Perfect for this drippy, cold weather we’re having.. That was such a fun day trip – like you said – a distance of space and time!!

  6. Mary Says:

    I’ve never made grits. (and the ones I’ve tried eating did not look ANYTHING like these, so I never thought about trying to make them) And I’d never even heard of a grillade before this. It all looks and sounds delicious.

  7. Barbara Says:

    Oh wow–both of these dishes look so yummy! Perfect for this time of year I think. The grillades look nice and lean too. Looks like a dish the hubby would like.

  8. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    All these dishes look perfect for our northeast winter. Your beautiful words make the grist mill and its setting come alive.

  9. Barbara Says:

    Love cheese grits…never have added garlic to mine. I will next time.
    Super idea to serve grillades with/over them…I always think of grillades as bits and pieces of everything. Just about covers it, doesn’t it?
    Super photos, Nancy!

  10. Hotly Spiced Says:

    How wonderful that the people running that mill are so caring about the processes involved. Great family recipes there. That’s the sort of cooking it’s wonderful to come home to.

  11. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    Growing up in Texas, I love grits however they are prepared. Both of your recipes sound great.

  12. Angie@Angie's Recipesa Says:

    I don’t think I have ever had cheesy grit before…it sure looks delicious!

  13. heather Says:

    Great winter recipes! Thank you Nancy.

  14. Caroline Says:

    I don’t know why I’ve never jumped on the grits bandwagon. I do like them though! This dish sounds incredible. Wonderful for winter, Nancy. :)

  15. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com Says:

    Grits is something I’ve never tried before — got to remedy this, soon :D

    Happy 2012!!!

  16. Beth Says:

    Served together, that is one gorgeous meal. I love the way you call onion, red pepper and celery the Cajun Trinity!

  17. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This is what I call soul food. I’ve never had the chance to get good quality grits, I imagine it makes all the difference it getting that wonderful nutty flavor in this dish.

  18. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…I have to admit how unfamiliar both these dishes were to me. This is one more reason why I insist on making time to visit with my foodies as often as I can. I learn so much ;)
    Grits are now on my somewhat getting lengthier list of to-do before I give up my kitchen. LOL

    BTW…a rushing cascade will lure me to it whether a specialty product exists or not ;o) Thanks for the descriptive visit with such passionate people.

    Have a great weekend,
    Claudia

  19. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Oh yeah- you’re getting all southern on me now! Speaking my language with the grits! I love them and this recipe looks and sounds AMAZING! WOW!

  20. Gursahiba@Exquisite Niche Says:

    Your blog is lovely!! Your pictures and the recipe looks mouthwatering. Read about you too!! It s so nice to read about your achievements, theres a lot to be learnt from you!!

  21. Alli Says:

    Both dishes look great but those garlic grits are going to make me drive to the store and buy stone ground grits today.

  22. Teresa/foodonfifth.com Says:

    I am telling you this looks so scrumptious! Love grits and the texture of your Fall’s Mill Grits look amazing. I must make this and snuggle up with a good movie soon. Grits and Grillades would be a good name for a restaurant! Si?

  23. Nicole Says:

    Sounds like the mill I visited this summer on Cape Cod. What a gem that there are mills like this still producing. The difference is huge. I’m still enjoying my cornmeal which I keep in the freezer. Your brunch dish would have fit the bill this morning in the 20 degree weather! Great time to be eating heartily!

  24. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Important point, Nichole–the grits and grains from these mills have no preservatives added, hence the need to store the bags in the freezer or fridge.

    It is wonderful that people are still operating mills in a time honored fashion.

    Claudia, these are quintessentially Southern United States, as unfamiliar to you as Poutine is to me!

    Mary, these is no way resemble the bland gruel-ish stuff you’ve seen served at places like Waffle House!

  25. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness Says:

    Holy scrumptious!

  26. Simply Life Says:

    Oh I love this idea! Looks absolutely delicious!

  27. Christy Says:

    Wow, they all look absolutely amazing!:)Grits sound so new yet intriguing to me :D

  28. Jill Mant~a SaucyCook Says:

    I can;t decide which I love more: your charming story or lovely photo’s. I only tried grits once and it was several decades ago at the American Airlines Learning Center. I learned I didn’t like them, but now I feel I must try these. Thank you for expanding my horizons.

  29. Juliana Says:

    Wow, what a great meal Nancy…love how you paired the grits with the pork…looks delicious.
    Have a great week :-)

  30. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    YUM! I always wondered what grits were. Looks fab!

  31. My Homepage Says:

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