This post is part of “The Art of Cheese”, a partnership between Honest Cooking and Castello Cheese.
A classic Creole dish topped with fork tender meat and creamy grits made with buttery Havarti cheese.
By Susan Benton
For many years I would visit the French Quarter on Sunday’s and eat at a bistro called Petunia’s for brunch. The restaurant was filled with colorful people, had an over the top decor and served delicious comfort food, but sadly is know longer in existence. Petunia’s was well known for their enormous crepes, but one of my favorite items on the menu was their Grillades & Grits. This recipe is adapted from Leon E. Soniat, Jr, and his cookbook La Bouche Creole. Make sure to let the meat simmer long enough to be fork tender. I think you will enjoy this Creole classic dish made with Aged Havarti from Castello.
Castello® Aged Havarti combines the rich buttery aroma and taste of a Creamy Havarti with a slightly crunchy texture. It was perfect with a glass of red wine and sliced pears for an appetizer and paired well with local honey touched with fresh thyme, caramelized onion chutney, and was delicious at Thanksgiving when shaved thin on top of grilled asparagus. I just could not resist melting it in local stone ground grits.
- 1½ to 1¾ pounds beef top round, or veal top round cut into 2-inch pieces, about ⅛-inch thick
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped celery
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (if canned use San Marzano tomatoes)
- 4-5 cloves chopped garlic
- 5 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 cups whole milk
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups stone ground grits
- 1½ cup grated Castello Aged Havarti, ½ cup reserved for later topping
- Combine the beef or veal in a large mixing bowl. Season the meat, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, tossing to coat well. Add the flour and toss to coat the meat completely. Turn the meat out onto a well-floured surface and lightly pound the meat with a meat mallet. Turn the meat over and lightly pound the other sides of the meat.
- Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large cast iron pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat, in batches, if necessary and brown evenly on both sides, for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the meat on paper towel-lined plates. (Add the remaining half of the oil to the pan, as needed between batches, waiting for the oil to heat before adding the meat.)
- Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the oil. Season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and the cayenne. Continue stirring, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, stock, and wine. Return the browned meat to the pot and season with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover partially, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 1¾ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the chopped parsley.
- Place a portion of the Baked Cheese Grits into a shallow serving bowl and spoon the grillades and some of the gravy over the grits. Garnish with some chopped green onions and serve immediately.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a 9 by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, salt, cayenne and remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Bring to a boil, stir in the grits, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir for 30 seconds, then add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grits are tender and creamy. Pour the grits into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the grits. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
- Serve hot topped with Grillades.
Susan Benton is the go to resource for foodies visiting Pensacola to Panama City Beach. She is a food and travel journalist with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.