Seafood and Beef Gumbo with Cheese Grit Cakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Cheese Grit Cakes adapted from Nathanial Zimet via Food & Wine
  • 1½ lbs beef cubes
  • ½ cup canola oil or duck fat (gasp!) OR bacon fat (GASP!)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lb fresh or frozen okra, sliced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb sea scallops
  • creole or cajun seasoning
  • Tabasco sauce
Cheese Grit Cakes
  • 3½ cups milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more to add to pan during searing, if needed
  • creole or cajun seasoning
Make Gumbo
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot or dutch ove. Preheat oven to 300 F. Season (or dredge like I do. I like it spicy!) beef cubes with creole or cajun seasoning, then sear in the 2 tablespoons hot oil. Don't crowd the pot, just sear in batches until golden brown on each side, adding another few beef cubes when one batch is done, lather, rinse, repeat, until you've seared all the beef cubes. If you sear all the beef cubes at once, the beef will steam and you'll lose a ton of flavor! With each batch, remove to bowl or plate when done searing. Set beef cubes aside until ready to proceed with them.
  2. Do not wipe out pan. While pan is still hot, add ½ cup canola oil to beef drippings. When it sizzles, whisk in flour. Keep whisking (this is your roux) over medium heat until medium brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped onions to the brown roux. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown (as shown in photo collage above), about 10 minutes. Be careful that it doesn't burn. If it smells burnt, trash it and start over.
  4. Add the chopped bell peppers, minced garlic, thyme, marjoram and celery to the onions and roux. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the seared beef back to the pot with the roux and vegetables, and cook about 3 minutes. Slowly pour in both stocks and tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift up the brown bits stuck to the pan from the beef searing (aka fond aka flavor!), then add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then place in preheated 300 F oven and cook for about 1 hour, covered.
  6. Remove pot from oven and add the sliced okra, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Cook for one more hour. In the mean time, season scallops with creole or cajun seasonings, then sear in a separate pan in 1 tablespoon of hot oil, 1 minute per side (the scallop recipe above is for fully cooked scallops to eat as is, not for this gumbo, although you can add them after the gumbo is done cooking, if desired). They will finish cooking in the hot gumbo when it's removed from the oven.
  7. Remove pot from oven..uncover and add peeled and de-veined shrimp. Place back in oven for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  8. Remove pot from oven. Add the seared scallops to the gumbo and let them soak up the flavors and finish cooking for a few minutes before serving. Season the gumbo with salt and pepper and/or more cajun and creole seasoning to taste. Serve with cheese grits cakes (recipe follows) and pass the Tabasco.
Make Cheese Grits Cakes
  1. Lightly oil a 9-inch-square glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer with half of the garlic. Slowly whisk in the grits over moderate heat until very thick, 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar and scallions. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Pour into the dish and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Let stand until firm, 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a saute pan with oil. Cut the grits into 6-12 squares (depending on how big you want them) and dust both sides of each cake with creole or cajun seasoning. Place in hot oil and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Keep the cheese grits cakes warm in a low oven.
Recipe by parsley sage sweet at