A good friend of mine tried her best to talk me into driving to New Orleans for Mardi Gras revelry this last weekend. I nobly resisted. I always cook my own Fat Tuesday feast, thank you very much... while listening to a mish mash of Zydeco and Cajun-inspired music. Sure, it's not as festive, and some year I hope to cross "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" off my Life List. But for now, I'll enjoy the fresh air and lack of half-naked crowds at home.
Well tonight's recipe was a flop. A failure. An epic fail. I recently stumbled across a new recipe website, I think on the recommendation of the magazine that sponsors it being one that encourages real food, not necessarily fast or easy food. I fell in love the moment I learned that a recent edition focused on either butter or bacon (I forget which). I've been visiting daily and printing off reams of delicious-sounding recipes. One of those recipes was for Grillades and Cremini Grits. I originally did not plan to serve this recipe for Mardi Gras. While not generally a creature of habit, I have spent the last 5 or 6 Mardi Gras making jambalaya or gumbo, either way involving a lot of sausage, shrimp, and/or chicken. Not grillades. And I know that grillades are generally a breakfast/brunch dish. Not dinner. As life happened, though, I didn't get to make them on their appointed night, so thought "well, hey, it'll work just fine for Mardi Gras."
Do not listen to those sorts of voices. Do not break from tradition. The gods of Mardi Gras were not pleased.
My first clue (other than trying to plan something not based on shrimp) should have been how different this recipe is from every other stinking recipe for grillades.
No one else uses an entire bottle of wine.
And now I know why. That's a lot of wine. And I like wine. But when it concentrates down that much... if it is not a very fine bottle, if you somehow follow the rule to only cook with wines you would drink, but apparently aren't selective enough about drinking wines... you end up with a final dish that tastes like tart wine. With onions. No beef flavor to speak of. Just bite after bite of wine. Blech.
The grits part didn't work out, either. Apparently the milk in the recipe serves a higher function than liquid and flavor. Maybe it's a custard-type thing. I subbed half chicken broth and half fancy-shmancy mushroom broth ("oooh, ahhh...") and ended up with runny grits. Harrumph. I'm hoping the leftovers will be good.
One good thing did come out of the grillades recipe.
I used half sorghum and half generic-gluten-free-white-flour-blend to coat the round steak, and it worked really well. It browned nicely and thickened the sauce very well.
So next year you can bet your sweet bippy I will be making jambalaya or gumbo. With sausage, shrimp, and/or chicken. Branching out isn't worth the risk. And next time I make grillades (yeah, there might be a next time, I'll try anything twice) I will stick to a recipe from Nawlins itself. Fancy-shmancy gourmet magazines don't know what they're talking about!