This is traditionally a breakfast or brunch dish in New Orleans, although for my family it's always been a favorite winter evening dish. In New Orleans, it's often made with veal, although I prefer the richer flavor with beef. Do not use quick or instant grits for this recipe; it will lack all the creamy character of real grits. If you use fresh tomato, you need to seed and peel them, then measure out the cup, and you need to cook them in the vegetables (before adding the stock) to break them down some, although I prefer the result from high-quality canned tomatoes. —TomFreeland
round of beef
chopped fresh thyme
ground black pepper
chopped bell pepper
chicken stock (may need slightly more)
roughly chopped canned Italian tomatoes with juice
Trim the beef and cut into about 2-3 inch squares, set on a plastic wrap, cover with the wrap, and pound thin.
Mix together the salt, thyme, black pepper, garlic, cayenne and flour, then toss the meat in it to coat thoroughly.
Heat the oil in a cast iron dutch oven or a similar pan until it is quite hot. Add the meat/seasoned flour (including what is loose in the bowl) and cook until browned on both sides. Remove the meat to a dish.
If there isn't enough oil in the dutch oven to sweat the onions, add a little. Put the onions in and sweat until soft, then add the bell pepper and celery and cook until it is soft. You might need to turn the heat down slightly; you do not want to brown the vegetables, but you want to thoroughly soften them.
Add the tomatoes and stock to the dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the dutch oven and cook at a simmer for 50 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, uncovered. Add additional stock if it gets too dry. There will be a moment when the liquid transforms from vegetables and stock to gravy; that, and when the meat is tender, is when it is done.
Meanwhile, when you have about forty minutes to go on the meat and gravy, put the 2 cups of water along with a large pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Slowly add the grits stirring constantly and bring to a simmer and cook for a half hour, until soft and done. You might need a small amount of additional water.
When the meat is tender and the liquid is gravy-like, taste for salt and pepper. Serve over the cooked grits.