Comfort food. We all have favorite foods from our childhoods that remind of us of simpler, more carefree times. For me, one of my favorite comfort foods ever is Cube Steak & Gravy. It is simple and fairly quick to prepare, and most importantly, fairly inexpensive. (Which is probably why it is one of my favorite comfort foods- I think we probably had it fairly often because it was so cheap. I also love liver & onions for the same reason.)
I make it just the way my mama does, and serve it over mashed malanga, with some sauteed okra and summer squash on the side. A perfect meal that the whole family enjoys, especially me!
For those of you who have never encountered cube steak, wikipedia defines it as: a cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat tenderizer. So if you can’t find cube steak at your local grass-fed butcher, then it is a great way to relieve some stress by pounding on some inexpensive round steaks with a meat tenderizer. It is very therapeutic and cathartic- trust me.
A word on grass-fed beef. When we first started our whole allergy/Paleo journey 3 1/2 years ago we formed a Beef Co-op with my in-laws and some friends. (Here is a post I wrote on my personal blog, introducing one of our first grass-fed beeves.) Once a quarter or so, we buy a whole grass-fed beeve or two, and split it up. It is great knowing where our cows come from (we have visited the ranches and butchers) and that they have been allowed to graze freely on what cows are meant to eat, grass. I prefer the taste of grass-fed beef and I now think conventional beef tastes a little gross. Grass-fed beef tends to be much leaner and have a gamier taste, so it can take a little while to get used to. We switched to using grass-fed beef for a couple of reasons. First, we didn’t like that conventional cows are fed corn and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. And with my family’s severe allergies to corn and other grains we were concerned that they could react to the conventional beef. And then there is the fact that grass-fed beef has a more favorable ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids , more CLAs, and is more nutrient dense than conventional. (See here.)
Of course, a lot more people have jumped on the grass-fed bandwagon, so it is harder to get a hold of and has increased in price considerably. (When we first started our co-op we paid about $4.50/lb. Now it is over $8/lb!) But to me, it is worth it to find the room in our budget to enjoy high-quality, grass-fed beef. And I love having different cuts of meat to work with than I could normally afford to buy. When you buy a whole cow, you get everything from hamburger, to roasts to steaks, plus the organ meats, fat and bones. But I won’t be sharing the name of the ranches we work with, because now we have to be put on a waiting list to get our beef.
Enjoy! (Apparently Aurora can’t wait long enough for me to photograph this meal to start digging in!)
- 3 lbs cube steak (or round steaks pounded with a meat tenderizer until thin)
- Salt and pepper
- Fat of choice
- 2 onions, diced or thinly sliced
- 1 quart beef broth (I usually save the juices when I make a roast- you can use beef bone broth, but then the taste of the meat is overpowered)
- 2 heaping Tbsp arrowroot
- 2 lbs malanga, peeled and cut into chunks (I usually use malanga blanca)
- Sea salt
- Fat of choice (I usually use olive oil or beef tallow)
- Chicken or beef broth
- Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add a generous dollop of your fat of choice.
- Generously season both sides of the steaks, and cook in batches, turning halfway through, until all of the steak is cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
- Add a bit more of you fat to the skillet and saute the onions until they are soft and begin to caramelize. Make sure you scrape up the browned bits from cooking the steaks- it adds such a wonderful depth of flavor to the finished gravy.
- Add the beef broth to the skillet. (Reserve about 1/2 cup of broth.) Heat the broth and onion mixture to a gentle boil.
- Add the arrowroot to the reserved broth and shake or whisk until well-combined. Slowly add the arrowroot mixture to the skillet, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens. Add the steaks and reduce heat to low to warm and coat the meat.
- Add the peeled, chopped malanga to a pot of cold water and add some sea salt.
- When you begin cooking the steak, bring the water to a gentle boil. Allow to cook until the malanga is tender when poked with a fork. (about 15 minutes.)
- Drain well and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add fat of choice (about 3-4 Tbsp), and slowly add broth while mashing until a smooth and creamy, mashed potato-like consistency is achieved.
- I love to use leftover mashed malanga to make malanga cakes- they are crispy on the outside, and warm and tender on the inside. Just form the cold mashed malanga into patties in your hand and fry in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.