|A gumbo of beef, made with a 7-steak, and cooked down with The Trinity trio, okra, and a little bit of chopped tasso for some heat.|
Seven Steak GumboAs far as I can discern, 7 steak gumbo had to have been born out of frugality. Unlike its more pricey seafood cousin, it is a gumbo of beef and okra, but of a fairly inexpensive cut of beef, similar to round steak. Seven steak requires slow braising or stewing in order to bring out it's delicious, tender flavor, making it a suitable candidate for a gumbo. It's called 7 steak because of the bone in it that is shaped like the number 7, when you can find it where the butcher hasn't removed it already, that is. I fix it most often as a Cajun smothered steak, but it can be used pretty much anywhere that you would use a braising steak.
Chef Frank Brigtsen talks of this unusual gumbo in his oral history on the Gumbo Trail. He says that in the early days of Chef Paul Prudhomme's restaurant, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a Creole chef there, by the name of Stanley Jackson, made a Seven Steak Gumbo. Brigsten said that Chef Paul and Chef Stanley worked on the recipe together and that it later appeared in Prudhomme's first cookbook. Outside of that, most people probably have never heard of it, and, well, y'all know how I feel about bringing back heirloom and heritage recipes. It will always be a primary goal at this website.
Turns out, it's quite a delicious gumbo and while I guess if you're totally opposed to okra, you could potentially omit it. I happen to love it and most especially in a gumbo. To be honest, after stewing for two hours with the beef, the base of this gumbo can stand all on its own too. It is that good. If you happen to have leftover gumbo but no leftover steak, go right ahead and eat that over a bed of rice. So good.
Here's how to make Seven Steak Gumbo. Start by cutting the steaks into servings sized pieces.
There's that 7-bone! See it? Don't throw it away! Either stick it in the freezer for stock at another time, or like me, I'm just gonna throw it in the gumbo with the meat.
Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat - don't freak out! Part of that oil is gonna become a small roux. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup of flour with 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour.
Lightly dredge the pieces of steak in the flour, reserve the leftover flour. Brown the meat in the hot oil in batches so you don't crowd them in the pot.
Might as well do the bone too!
Remove meat and set aside while you cook the vegetables.
While the meat is browning, and if you haven't already, go ahead and chop up and measure out the vegetables. You'll need 2 cups of sliced okra. Frozen is fine for gumbo, just make sure that it's plain, unbreaded okra.
Chop 1 cup of onion, 1/2 cup of green bell pepper and 1/4 cup of chopped celery and set aside.
Add the okra to the pan drippings. Cook and stir until browned, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, chop up 1/4 pound of tasso or smoked sausage and set aside. I used tasso this time, which is a highly seasoned cured pork that has been rubbed with a variety of spices and seasonings prior to smoking - including plenty of cayenne pepper. It is firm in texture like ham, but adds a huge kick of rich and spicy flavor to dishes.
Add the chopped tasso to the okra.
Add the Trinity.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil and 2 bay leaves. Cook and stir about 2 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter.
And the reserved seasoned flour.
Add the garlic, cook and stir about 3 minutes longer.
Begin stirring in 4 cups of beef stock a little at a time until it's fully incorporated.
Add one undrained, 14.5 ounce can of stewed tomatoes and a tablespoon of chopped pickled jalapenos.If you aren't a fan of large bits of tomato, you can certainly chop them up a bit smaller. Just use your kitchen shears to chop them up, right in the can.
Slide in the browned seven steaks, bring everything back up to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until beef is tender. Don't allow the meat to boil, adjusting the heat down if needed.
Serve a portion of cooked rice, topped with a serving of steak, and spoon the gumbo on top.
Don't let the list of ingredients scare you away. It's all pretty much basic pantry seasonings and it's all simply layers of flavor. Go for it.
Recipe: Seven Steak Gumbo©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 6 servings
- 1/2 cup of canola or vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 to 2 pound seven bone steak or other braising steaks
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
- 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 2 cups of sliced okra
- 1/4 pound of pork tasso, andouille or smoked sausage
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup of chopped celery
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 4 cups of beef broth or stock
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can of stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled jalapenos
- Hot cooked rice
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cut the seven steak into pieces and season both sides with salt and pepper. Meanwhile in a pie plate combine the flour, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and paprika; set aside 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour. Lightly dredge the meat in the remaining flour, and brown the steak pieces in the hot oil in batches. Remove meat as it browns and set aside.
Add the okra to the pan drippings; cook and stir over medium heat until browned, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tasso, onion, bell pepper, celery, thyme, basil and bay leaves. Cook and stir about 2 minutes. Add the butter, the reserved seasoned flour and the garlic. Cook and stir about 3 minutes longer and begin stirring in the beef stock a little at a time. Add tomatoes and jalapeno, slip in the browned seven steaks, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until beef is tender. Don't allow meat to boil, adjusting the heat down if needed.
Serve a portion of rice, topped with a serving of steak, and spoon gumbo on top.
The tasso adds a wonderful spicy bite to this gumbo, so don't be tempted to overdo it with hot sauce or Cajun seasoning if you use it. You can also substitute some smoked sausage for a milder version.
Braising steaks are best for this dish. Braising is not recommended for top round (which is often just marked as "round,"), so if you use round steak, be sure to use an eye or bottom round steak for this dish. Other good braising steaks include chuck eye, chuck arm, mock tender, chuck tender steak and flat iron. Substitute fresh herbs for the dried if you prefer.
Crockpot: Prepare as above, transferring steaks to a slow cooker. Proceed with recipe adding everything to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours, or high for 4 to 5 hours, or longer as needed, until meat is tender. Use a wide spatula to remove steaks from slow cooker and serve over rice.
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