Wednesday, March 30, 2011

steak and polenta

At Martin's wine cellar, about three blocks from where I lived for the last couple of years in New Orleans, there was a deli. I used to go there all the time, mostly because they had great sandwiches and fries. But they had specials, and one of those was a steak on grits. Grits are basically cooked ground coarse cornmeal, usually cooked in water and butter. The steak, with some sauteed vegetables, was placed on top of the grits and then blanketed with a sauce.

Polenta is not very different from grits. Often cooked in water as well, it is a staple in Italian food. It can be served, as shown above, as a kind of porridge and goes with almost everything, from meat to chicken to seafood... it has a mushy consistency, as expected, but it has a nice subtle play of flavours that tend to highlight flavours from what you serve with it. It can also be allowed to dry and then be cut into blocks and fried for some crunch.

I haven't played much tennis in the last few weeks, so my cooking output had reduced. Strange how they're linked. But I've started again with dedicated intent and my food production will provide me with the energy I need. The plate you see above is basically polenta cooked with milk and cream, sauteed peppers, zucchini and mushrooms, and steak. The flavours went very well together, as expected. I based this on a recipe from Locatelli's book but changed around some things. His suggestion of some rosemary with the steak was maintained and it helped to marry the steak and the polenta even more. He had another recipe close a few pages off from this one that had a lamb stew with peppers and polenta. I think the extra sauce from a stew will help the experience. The polenta wasn't dry but the consistency of cornmeal and milk needed another flavourful liquid, a stock, a demi-glace or something similar. I will try that next time.


  1. grits ... give me grits ... lots of grits ... i like 'em with a little pat of butter plus salt & black pepper or mixed with a country cream gravy ... one of those guilty pleasures :)

    did you ever visit Mother's while in NOLA? i love that place

  2. grits are profound. so good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. definitely some of the best comfort food there is. I went to Mother's a few times, good po-boys. The problem for me was their location - finding parking downtown was never easy. Next time you're in NOLA, check out the eateries at magazine st, midcity and towards the lake. so many good places to choose from.

  3. we stayed at the W Hotel which is next door to Mother's so I had the place at my disposal ... will have to check out Magazine St. next time ... thanks for the tip