Ready to entertain like Mardi Gras royalty? Plan on a parade of fun-loving guests and family. Maypop’s executive chef Michael Gulotta gave us a recipe for crispy Pork Belly Grillades and Cheesy Grits designed to have everyone marching for more.

Michael Gulotta, Executive Chef Maypop maypoprestaurant.com 611 O’Keefe Ave

Pork Belly Grillades and Cheesy Grits

Serves 10 guests

For the Grillades:

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 pinch crushed red pepper flake

¼ cup canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1” finger of ginger, minced

½ stalk lemongrass, lightly beaten with the back of a knife

2 bay leaves

1 lime leaf

2 each large ripe tomato, can substitute canned Roma tomatoes

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

2 cups beef stock or canned low sodium beef broth

salt to taste

Tabasco to taste

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion for garnish

Directions:

1. In a large pot or cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the ¼ cup of canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the onion, bell pepper, celery and ¼ cup of flour to the pan. Cook until the aromatics begin to caramelize, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides to loosen any browned bits, about 4 minutes.

2. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, bay leaves, lime leaf, and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the sauce while stirring occasionally, at least 2 hours.

3. Season the finished grillade sauce with salt and Tabasco to taste. Serve the grillade sauce over the warm, cheesy grits and topped by the slices of crispy pork belly. Garnish with sliced green onion.

For the Pork Belly:

2 pounds pork belly, skin on

½ cup sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 onion, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1 head garlic, split and broken into cloves

1. mix together the salt, sugar, and chili flake and evenly coat the pork belly and let sit in the cooler overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F

3. In a baking pan spread out the onions and halved garlic cloves. Top the aromatics with the belly and fill the pan with water until it is halfway up the pork belly.

4. Place the belly in the oven and roast uncovered for 50 minutes and then crank up the heat to 425°F for an additional 20 minutes. The skin should puff and brown.

5. Remove the belly form the oven and let cool in the remaining broth until warm.

6. Transfer the belly onto a cutting board and cut into 2-inch-thick slices. Reserve warm until ready to serve with the grillades and cheesy grits.

For the Cheesy Grits:

1 cup stone ground grits

4 cups water

4 tablespoons butter

½ pound cheddar cheese, grated, or more if you like it really cheesy (or sub equal amount mascarpone cheese)

½ cup coconut milk

3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste

salt to taste

Directions:

1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits and continue to stir until the grits begin to thicken, about 3 minutes. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Allow the grits to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

2. Once the grits are tender, remove the pot from the heat and whip in the butter, cheese, and roasted garlic.

Season with salt to taste.