New tradition means more time to visit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here’s the thing about women in the south — pretty much any occasion calls for us to gather together and bring food.

A serious moment calls for a casserole, deviled eggs or your best fried chicken. A new baby definitely means a new casserole that mommy can pop into the oven when the baby’s mood dictates. Someone’s daughter or son getting married? That’s an easy one. There are all kinds of showers we can give to celebrate the happy couple. There’s a new trend in newlyweds and it has given way to different type of celebration.

For years newlyweds have left their receptions, waving goodbye to their guests and parents as they headed off on their honeymoon, not to be seen again for a week or longer.

As many brides and grooms have discovered the wedding and the reception go by in a quick nervous blur, and often when they set off on their honeymoon they can barely remember who was there and never got to say hello to any of their guests. So now many brides and grooms are staying the night here in town and not leaving until the next day.

My daughter Holly and her husband Parker did this last May, and I was surprised how happy I was to see them the next morning. Parker’s mother Laurie and I were glad to go over the entire ceremony with Holly, reliving every detail.

And out-of-town guests who only got a second with them at the reception were thrilled to have them for a visit at brunch.

This weekend the same was true for the daughter of my friends, Joe and Cindy Meng. Their daughter Amanda married a wonderful young man, Bailey, from Mobile, Ala. A group of us got together and gave them a brunch on Sunday morning.

It was so much fun to get chance to really meet the out-of-town guests and to see the happy new couple before they left for their honeymoon. We divided up all the duties and it all came together beautifully. There was salad, biscuits, delicious desserts, bloody marys and mimosas and at the request of the groom, grits and grillades.

Fortunately for the groom this savvy group turned to one of my favorite sources for their grillades recipe, Southern Sideboards. Served over cheese grits this will soon prove to be one of your family’s favorites. Another happy note about this recipe is that it is better if made the day before, and it freezes beautifully.

Grillades

8 pounds beef round steak

1 cup of vegetable oil, divided

1 cup flour

3 cups chopped onion

1 bunch green onion, chopped

5 ribs celery and tops, chopped

3 cups chopped green pepper

16 ounces tomato sauce

2 teaspoons thyme

2 cups red wine (the recipe calls for Burgundy, but I use a Cabernet)

1 to 2 cups water

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 bunch of parsley, minced

2 teaspoons Tabasco

4 tablespoons Worcestershire

6 to 8 bay leaves

Cut the meat into strips and brown in as little oil as you can in a large Dutch oven, set aside the meat as you brown it. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and stir in the flour. Continue stirring until you have a rich brown roux. Add the onions, celery and green pepper until tender. Add the tomato sauce and thyme, stirring until the sauce has lost its bright red color. Add the wine and as much water as needed to make enough gravy to cover the meat. Return the meat to the gravy and bring to a boil. Add all the remainder seasonings. Reduce heat and simmer two hours or until done, meat will become very tender and fall apart. Taste and add salt or pepper to taste. You can serve over rice or grits, but her in the South the term is “grits and grillades.” We served them over cheese grits and they were delicious.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com