Easy Seafood and Beef Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes, Y’all.

Yes, Easy Seafood and Beef Gumbo (aka surf and turf gumbo) with Cheese Grits Cakes..

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

Well..easy after you chop, slice, dice and mince all of the below.

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

Umm..easy after you sear 1 1/2 pounds of beef cubes on each side, then stand at the stove for 15 minutes browning the roux, then another 10-15 minutes caramelizing the onions in the roux, then another 10 minutes (at least in my recipe) sauteing the peppers, garlic and herbs with the onions in roux.

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

Now it really does get easy, because with my method you dump the beef, stocks, well..basically everything but the scallops, shrimp and cheese grits cakes, into the pot, then into the oven, and let it cook for about an hour.  THEN, you throw in the okra, and cook for another hour.  Now you need to add the shrimp, and let it go for another 10 minutes. OH, and while that’s happening, you need to sear/fry the cajun or creole seasoned scallops, cut and sear/fry the creole or cajun seasoned cheese grits cakes, and then..OK, I’ll stop here.

Alright, not easy, but you don’t have to keep running to the stove to stir it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom! Yay! (sarcasm alert) If you want easy, and New Orleans style cooking, red beans and rice soup or stew is good. Some Cajun dirty rice is simple and yummy. Nahh, tonight go for this gumbo!!

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

SO, sick of the word ‘easy’ yet? Have I misused it in my desperate attempt to convince you to make this delicious gumbo? You bet! The only ‘really’ easy part is cooking the gumbo in the oven, and the only reason I used the oven is because I hurt my knee again last week and didn’t want to take any chances running back and forth to the stove to stir.  Again, Yay! (sarcasm still rampant).

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Fish Gumbo from My New Orleans:  The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

For bowl photos, I cut the beef, scallops and shrimp into small chunks.  Of course you don’t have to, and in fact, I recommend that you don’t!

I sort of made up my own gumbo.  Denise provided us with three awesome recipes, but I just felt the need for beef in lieu of sausage and chicken, beef in lieu of duck and sausage (been there way too recently), beef in lieu of chicken or duck with sausage and seafood.  I was ditching the bird and pig.  I need red meat; my body is calling for it so it can send it on down to my knee.  I added seafood with the beef; big, fat, juicy scallops and jumbo shrimp, to be exact, which equates to surf and turfy gumboliciousness.

All that being said, I was going to nix the okra.  Only once in my life have I had okra that wasn’t sliming up my gumbo, and that was in some little, out of the way restaurant/shack in Florida.  I didn’t trust that I could make it not slimy.  Then it hit me; okra is gumbo.  I used to do the NY Times crossword puzzle every Sunday, (this is not bragging because I used a pencil and reference books when I was desperate to finish the dang puzzle to see the theme), and whenever the clue was ‘okra’ the answer was ‘gumbo’.  Whenever the clue was ‘gumbo’, the answer was ‘okra’.

I had to add it now, and there was no turning back since I paid for the pound of green, tubular, slug-like aliens, mocking me with their inner-slime.  If there was no okra, I was essentially making a spicy, roux thickened beef and seafood soup/stew, not gumbo.  Nope, no good.  Verdict: The okra pretty much disintegrated, probably because I sliced it super thin, but no slime.   I’m clueless as to what I did right. Maybe it was genetically engineered slime-free okra? Well..last week a friend gave me a jar of what she called “Quick and Easy Pickled Okra”, and not only were they slime-free, but I couldn’t stop eating it!

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

That said, although I sort of followed Denise’s gumbo syllabus, I tinkered with different ingredient amounts, mixed up the herbs, and well..I don’t see a beef, sea scallop and shrimp gumbo out there anywhere, so it’s mine, right? Well, mine until some grumpy chef or food blogger appears out of nowhere and claims they’ve been making this exact beef and seafood gumbo since they went shrimpin’ as a kid, or it was passed down from generation to generation, starting with their Uncle Bubba in the 19th century who “..actually knew, and made this gumbo for Billy the Kid in 1880 and…”

OK, a few notes.  Scallops.  I never understood why some people boil scallops.  Gently poach, maybe, but boil? No. I’ve had seafood stews where the scallops were just thrown in for the last few minutes, turning them into erasers with little flavor.  Scallops are delectable and sweet, so they still taste sweet no matter how they’re cooked, if cooked perfectly.

WHY should scallops float in a stew or gumbo, pale and not be everything they could be, like chunks of bean curd or the aforementioned erasers? There is so much more flavor to be had by seasoning and searing them off, and then throwing them into the finished stew or gumbo.  Shrimp/Lobster/Crawfish boil = GOOD, Scallop boil = NOT so good.  Happ-i-ness with each bite of pan-caramelized, spicy scallop is more than worth the extra few minutes involved. A few weeks ago I slathered the shrimp in Cajun seasoning and slightly baked them prior to adding them to the gumbo. Wow, even spicier and super, seriously delish!

I thought this might work, completely forgetting that gumbo is a ‘soupy’ stew or a thick soup, whichever suits your foodie senses.  Oh, well, not for lack of trying.

I seasoned my scallops, like the shrimp, with my trusty jar of Bayou Blast, which I made from a recipe online.  Denise gave us a recipe for creole seasoning, but since I’ve been making it since like..well, my Uncle Bubba..never mind, for a few years, I decided to use it instead of making the creole seasoning.  The ingredients are pretty close anyway.

Anyway, these scallops are like candy! As mentioned above, they’re seasoned with cajun or creole seasoning, and seared over medium high heat until each side is golden brown; crispy golden brown.

I also seasoned and seared the beef with the cajun seasoning, and the cheese grits cakes.  Yes cheese grits cakes.  I’d never tried grits before, so when I came upon a recipe for these via a Food & Wine email, I thought it would pair well with my gumbo in lieu of rice, and it did.  Oh, by the way, grits have no discernible flavor whatsoever, unless I’m missing something here.  You need to really, really season them up good!

Beef and Seafood Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes

In conclusion, loved this challenge, and  love my ‘new’ gumbo.  Please check out Denise’s gumbo challenge recipes, HERE.

Now that I’ve conquered gumbo, I think it’s high time I get my hands on some crawfish for a crawfish etouffee! OR maybe shrimp etouffee! HOLY TRINITY! Let’s take a tasty vacay to the Louisiana Bayou!!

UPDATE: So, a reader, (Kellie from PA), asked me..

What’s the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya?

The answer is simple. Jambalaya is a rice dish, not unlike paella (and paella is not a type of rice, it’s a dish that’s made with rice), and gumbo is a roux thickened thick soup/stew.

Seafood and Beef Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes AND Spicy Seared Scallops (aka Surf ‘n Turf Gumbo)

Cajun Seared Spicy Scallops
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1½ pounds large sea scallops, tendons removed
  • Your favorite Cajun seasoning or Creole Seasoning, or make it yourself!
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  1. Blot Scallops verrry dry on paper towels, both sides.
  2. Rub the scallops all over with the cajun seasoning.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a pan or skillet, until very hot.
  4. Place half the scallops in the pan and let sear on one side (do not move!) until caramelized, about 1½ to 2 minutes. While they are searing, sprinkle a little more cajun seasoning on the tops. Flip them over then add another tablespoon of butter and tablespoon oil to the pan. Let sear another 1 to ½ minutes until firm and the centers are opaque.
  5. Wipe pan or skillet clean, and repeat with the other half of butter, oil, seasoning and scallops.
  6. Eat them like candy.

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.

Big, fat, plump juicy Sea Scallops rubbed with Cajun seasoning andseared to perfection! We eat these like candy! #scallops #seascallops #seafood #cajunscallops #cajun #creole
Homemade Cheese Grits Cakes seared with Cajun Seasoning. I've never had grits so delicious!! #grits #cheesegrits #cheesegritscakes #cheese

This entry was posted in Beef, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Seafood, Soups/Stews, Vegetables and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Easy Seafood and Beef Gumbo with Cheese Grits Cakes, Y’all.

  1. Jenn says:

    Beautiful! And I agree about searing the scallops and just adding them in – but then I just love caramelized flavor too 🙂 Lovely gumbo!

  2. Rosa says:

    You’ve really outdone yourself! That gumbo looks marvelous and so appetizing.



  3. Fabulous job on this challenge. Love the gorgeous color of your roux. I was awaiting the verdict on the okra – slimy or not slimy? 🙂

  4. Shelley C says:

    That is a delicious looking gumbo! And man, girlfriend, you’re practically early this month! Your photos look so appetizing, I am kinda hankering for a bowl for breakfast… 🙂 Awesome job.

  5. Sue says:

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve never had gumbo (or grits) before!?! Looking at your photos I’d definitely be willing to change that…Will you make me some? 🙂 I LOVE scallops(great that you didn’t pulverize them)! Great job, Lisa! Your Uncle Bubba would be proud:)

  6. blepharisma says:

    This looks really good and inventive! I had the same apprehension about the okra – I really really hate okra. I came to the same conclusion, though, and trusted the recipe. No slime for me, either!!

  7. Wifey-poo says:

    Scrumptious my love!! And your gumbo look AMAZING as well. 😉 Love the cheese grits too – great addition. LOVE YOU! XOXOXOXOXO

    PS – Sorry to hear about the knee. 🙁 Will this prevent our most acrobatic honeymoon activities? *sob* xoxo

  8. Suz says:

    Ooooh, this looks good. Scallops AND beef! Oooooh! It looks so decadent and I love the beautifully dark and glossy roux. Hurray for non-slimy okra! Mine -alas- went a bit slimy, even though I did try frying them up a bit of oil first.

    I need to finish writing my post, but I’m feeling kind of lazy.

    Sorry to hear your knee is still causing you pain. I hope it gets better soon.

  9. Ruth H. says:

    Your gumbo looks beautiful, but being vegetarian, your cheese grits look divine!! I love the way you write and tell your stories. You make me want to be in the kitchen right there with you!

  10. Azalee says:

    Most of the times i visit a blog I consider that most blogs are amateurish or phony. On the other hand,I could literally say that you writting is real and your photos are perfectly imperfect, like life. Keep up the good work.

  11. You did an amaxing job on this challenge ..gumbo is really forgiving and it is wonderful that you made it your own
    I loved your sense of humer..
    subscribing to your wonderful blog

  12. Katrina says:

    I don’t even like some of the things in that, but your photos are always so great that that looks really good. 😉 The grit cakes look de-lish.

  13. climbhighak says:

    Shall I now call you Grace or hop-along? Quit it with the MLS soccer for rehab.

    I have never even heard of beef gumbo. You breaking rules on purpose methinks. It looks delicious and love the dark color.

    Great minds think alike. I insisted on searing of my halibut cheeks in much the same fashion as you did your scallops. Great work Lisa. I sincerely hope you are taking care of yourself and that the knee is healing fast.

  14. Surf and turf gumbo LOL LOL! I just love the idea of the cheese grit cakes looks so wonderful thank you so much for posting the recipe. Gorgeous photos and the colour of the roux is astounding. I hope the leg heals quickly. Perfect execution of the challenge concept.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  15. Renata says:

    The cheese grits were a mouthwatering addition. Stunning photos and wonderful gumbo! I’m drooling over here!

  16. These pictures are making my mouth water and so early in the morning!

  17. Lea says:

    It looks so delicious! Great!

  18. Claire says:

    Great job on your gumbo, the beef was a good idea, i bet it was delicious! 🙂

  19. Leisa says:

    Hi, I found your site via dishfolio. love all your food and your writing is fun! like that you served the gumbo with grits..like grillade and grits! very ‘weeisiana’

  20. chef_d says:

    Yum, beef and seafood? I love your combination! And the pictures look delicious. Your plating with the cheese grits in the middle is perfect, excellent job!

  21. Leslie says:

    Great gumbo combo, Lisa! I’m sure standing over the stove for a day did nothing but help your knee (more sarcasm), but at least you were able to feed it a yummy meal. I hear cheese grits have great healing powers, too. Well done!

  22. Dan says:

    Again looks delicious – wouldn’t want to waste a drop. Your photos are excellent. Making me hungry.

  23. Evelyne says:

    O h no not again with the knee! SO sorry to hear that. I understand the body calling out for red meat…I get that too sometimes.

    I LOVE YOUR gumbo. I think your move of beef and seafood together is brave but wonderful…glad to hear it is a success. It was definitely a time consuming challenge. And the cheese grits cakes…..love it!

  24. This looks delicious, probably because it isn’t easy 🙂 Sorry about your knee. Props to you for attempting this, even with an injured knee!

  25. Lovely gumbo Lisa! And even though it wasn’t easy and took a while it looks worth putting on a Southern drawl for y’all! 😀

  26. This gumbo looks so ver flavorful!

  27. Suzanne says:

    You are so funny, love your writing and sarcasm. I usually only like okra deep fried because its not slimy but your right gumbo isn’t gumbo without okra. Good idea with the cheese grits cakes those really top the gumbo off.
    xoxox Suz

  28. shaz says:

    Boy does that look good! So hearty and delicious. I am actually a big fan of okra, and of seared scallops, so I know I’ll love this version. Actually, I’ve never had gumbo before, so all this gumbo action is making me want to try and make some soon. Great work on the challenge. Hope your knee feels better soon.

  29. monkeyshines says:

    Sorry you hurt your knee. Lovely gumbo though – I’ve never seen one with beef. Which means that yours was way overdue! Yum!

  30. Valerie says:

    You made grits! How Southern of you! Your gumbo must have tasted incredible, love the surf ‘n’ turf! You also plated it beautifully. Great job, Lisa, as always!

  31. Your gumbo looks spectacular! Hearty, saucy and tasty!

  32. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Your gumbo sounds so flavorful and delicious, perfect with the grits cakes (I’ve been making grits cakes a lot lately to go with various meals, they’re so yummy).

  33. Sarah says:

    Wow! Your gumbo looks so attractive. I love the addition of seared scallops; they are one of my favorite foods. I hope your knee gets better quickly.

  34. Xiaolu says:

    Mmm I’ve never tried gumbo but this looks amazing. Especially LOVE the idea of making grits into little cakes.

  35. HOw fabulous, that looks like a soup with real bite, something that you can really get your teeth into. I dont usually like soup because it always feels so unsubstantial to me, but this one looks like an exception to the rule.
    *kisses* HH

  36. I’m definitely with you on the searing of scallops. Love that crust. And, your grit cakes look fantastic on top of the gumbo. I’m going to be craving gumbo for the foreseeable future now.

  37. A-mazing.

    I really need to try grits soon! (I promise, I really, really want to, but it’s hard to find a place that will do them up right here in Canada).

    Your blog looks so awesome!


  38. Jenni says:

    Great job!! Your beef and scallop gumbo looks great! I’m going to share a secret, I’ve never had a scallop before, but yours look so good that I’m curious to try!! Hope your knee if feeling better!

  39. Christina says:

    Wow, great job on the beef and seafood gumbo! My roux turned the color of charcoal b/c I didn’t keep an eye on it. I would love to try again using yiour recipe!

  40. I needed a smile today – thank you!! Love your post, creativity, and photography…that roux looks heavenly, and seared scallops are definitely the only way to go. It’s ok you “broke the rules” by using beef 😉 After our Daring Cooks finished this challenge, there are so many more variations out there for the world to enjoy. Take care of that knee.

  41. Juliana says:

    Your beef and seafood gumbo looks delicious and I love the cheese grit cake…what a lovely combination. Perfect! Hope you are having a wonderful week Lisa 🙂

  42. Those cheese grit cakes are calling my name–they looks so good. I like to use the cajun seasoning with fish, and these would be a wonderful accompaniment.

  43. Christine says:

    That’s a delicious looking gumbo! Good job!

  44. Ling says:

    Wow, excellent sear job! I have yet to perfect that perfect brown tint for the scallops I like 🙁

  45. Now that was some tutorial! I am with you on the scallops – I almost thought your grit cake was a scallop – love that presentation… and after my day of scallop eating as Judge of a local Top Chef contest, I can attest that scallops are always good seared. And raw, too, if sliced paper thin. Oh my. This is definitely a Lisa Michele recipe challenge. Never anything simple in her kitchen! It looks delicious. I have never been motivated to make gumbo until just now, so KUDOS to you!

  46. Mari's Cakes says:

    This platter looks delicious. I understand cooking okra “gumbo” is not that easy because of it slimy center, I usually rinse mine 3 times before cooking. You have wonderful recipes!

  47. Krista says:

    This looks absolutely fantastic, Lisa! The perfect comfort food for a chilly evening. 🙂 It does sound like a lot of chopping, but sometimes that’s so beautifully therapeutic. 🙂

  48. Pingback: Classic Cajun & Creole Style Stews for National Gumbo Day! | Yummly

  49. Tim says:

    This is an awesome recipe and I’m going to try it today. One question though…you list a can of tomatoes in your ingredients but you don’t mention what to do with them…

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Tim – So sorry, it’s now fixed 🙂 Let me know how it turns out for you!

      • Tim says:

        Awesome! thanks making it as I type this…i probably couldve let the roux get a little darker but so far the smell is nuts. I’m using dashi stock instead of beef and chicken stock though. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

  50. Carole says:

    Lisa, thanks for popping by and adding to the “scallopy” collection. Cheers

  51. Bennie says:

    I made the scallops for my boyfriend tonight, along with grilled steak and salad, and they are so delicious! He ate them up quick and wanted more! I never thought of using cajun seasoning. Thanks for opening my eyes to this and the recipe!

    • Lisa says:

      That sounds like a great menu, Bennie, and I’m totally thrilled that the scallops were front and center! Yes, cajun or creole seasoning makes all the difference! 🙂

  52. Pingback: Creamy Tomato Alfredo Linguine - parsley sage sweetparsley sage sweet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *