Greg Picolo’s Frog Legs Grillades
Many good recipes combine two elements that don’t seem to belong together. This is one of them. The meaty part of the classic Creole breakfast dish grillades and grits is usually veal or beef chuck, a far cry from frog’s legs. And yet, the idea works. Chef Greg Picolo developed this during his long tenure in the kitchen of the Bistro at the Maison de Ville. He brought it with him when he showed up at Redemption in 2011. The hard part of the dish is finding frog legs. Either the large ones (the size of chicken wings) or the small ones will work. So will, come to think of it, chicken wings. Or duck wings. Or whole quail.
There is a long-running controversy as to whether the grillades (whatever they’re made of) should be served on top of the grits or on the side. Chef Greg says the former, I say the latter. You can compromise, as I do here. Greg usually serves this with poached eggs, but when I cooked it I used my mother’s unique approach to grits: with beaten eggs stirred in already. (I still eat grits that way.)
- Frog legs and sauce:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 18 large or 24 small (preferred) frog legs per person
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped brunoise (small dice, by hand)
- 1 ripe green bell pepper, chopped brunoise
- 2 ribs celery, chopped brunoise
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3 cups rich chicken or veal stock or (better) 2 cups veal demi-glace
- 1 Tbs. tamarind concentrate, Pickapeppa, or Tabasco Caribbean-style steak sauce
- 3 Tbs. light soy sauce
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, pulp and seeds removed, chopped
- 2 tsp. parsley, stems and leaves, chopped
- Grits and eggs:
- 3 cups stone-ground grits (uncooked)
- 8 strips thick, smoked bacon
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
Frog legs and sauce:
1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and dust (don’t dredge) the frog legs in the mixture.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers, then lightly brown the frog legs. Add more oil, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Remove the frog legs from the pan as soon as they’re browned on both sides.
3. Pour off all but about two Tbs. of oil from the pan. Add the onions, celery and bell pepper and cook until the onions just begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
4. Add the stock or the demi-glace, the tamarind (or Pickapeppa or Tabasco Caribbean steak sauce), soy sauce, tomatoes, and the parsley. Bring to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let it go for fifteen to twenty minutes, but move on before the mixture begins to turn dry. (It should be quite juicy, but not sloshy.)
5. Place the frog legs atop the pan contents and let them steam in the pan’s sauce for about ten minutes–longer if you’re using the big bullfrog legs. (For chicken or duck, it will take longer still.)
Grits and eggs:
1. Cook the grits according to the instructions on the bag. In the meantime, fry the bacon crisp, then crumble it.
2. Stir the beaten eggs into the hot grits until they disappear. Stir in the cheese and crumbled bacon.
3. Spoon the grits onto one side of the plate. Spoon the sauce and the frog leg’s so that they overlap the grits. Serve with hot biscuits on the side.
Serves six to eight.