Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Soapbox: The Accidental Invention of “Slap Ya Mama” Steak Tacos

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless

Pet activists, vegetarians, and executive chefs just go ahead and stop reading here.

 American author Alice Walker once said, “In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” It is in the spirit of Ms. Walker’s sentiments of the great women influencers of our lives that I bring you, Dear Reader, my top secret recipe for what I now call Slap Ya Mama Steak Tacos, but also the BEST MEAL I HAVE EVER PREPARED IN MY LIFE.  You’re welcome.

Before disclosing this ever so special recipe, there are a few things I MUST get straight for the record.

First and foremost, let me confess that I fully acknowledge hearing my mother’s voice escape from my lips every time I tell my son you need to do this just in case.  In this world, there is a whole plethora of things I declared I would NEVER do.  Well Mama…you were right about practically everything.

Secondly, my story of the so-called accidental discovery of these tacos divine is going to challenge the principles of both vegetarians and chefs alike.  For the heck of it, I thought I would just go ahead and give the pet activists a blanket disclaimer like I have done in every article involving any animal whether eaten or nurtured, this, ever since my unintentional rub when I penned my column about the Free Kittens.  Sorry about that.

Third, ever since I began cooking, I’ve chased my mother’s round steak recipe in the hopes of creating a simple meal with the same signature great taste, but to no avail. I don’t know how she does it, but no matter how many times I’ve tried, my Mama can flat out cook round steak with rice and gravy like no other.

Finally, slapping ya Mama has nothing to do with actual violence. Rather, it is a colloquialism indigenous to my South Louisiana upbringing and also the name of perhaps one of the best Cajun seasonings on Earth; however, on this particular day I opted for salt and pepper alone.

That said, our story begins here:

At the risk of having to include the feminists in my blanket disclaimer, let me say that while I’m all for equality in the workplace, etc., etc., I still believe that there are just certain things that are not only better left for men to do, but men are actually BETTER at doing those certain things.  Take for instance, lighting the charcoal grill.  It’s not that we ladies, CAN’T do it, but it’s totally not worth comprising perfectly ironed hair and smelling like a fire for the duration of the day. So there, I’ve said it. Go men!

Along with these sentiments about charcoal, men, Ms. Walker, and my life-long chase of Mama’s round steak, I made the very controversial decision that led to my accidental discovery.

It was a dark and stormy night and I was not only without a man to light the grill, but hey, it was a dark and stormy night.  Like I’m going to allow my curls to activate in the humidity, smell like a puff of smoke, AND get all wet over a filet mignon.  I think not.

I took one look at that center cut filet mignon and knew I had no choice. After generously seasoning a couple of them with salt and pepper, I put them in the Crock-Pot (Don’t shoot the messenger, I know this is completely appalling by most standards) just like Mama says…WITH NO WATER!!  I turned that baby on low and let it go.

After several hours, I chopped half an onion and threw it in there with a diluted pack of McCormick’s Mushroom Gravy mix. In about three more hours, I was able to loosen it with a fork. I can unabashedly say, that I felt sorry for neither the cow nor the filet that had so been demeaned by such an unworthy manner of preparation, for I took some heat when I thought I was doing the world a favor by posting the recipe online. My bad.

When I served jasmine rice, red beans, and steak tacos with my special marinated green coleslaw, NO ONE at my table was thinking about any Crock-Pot. In fact, it was very quiet as everyone loaded the tortillas with steak, my special cabbage, cilantro, radishes, red onion, tomatillo sauce, and lime.  The only sounds were progressively lengthening sounds of…um, ummm, ummmmm!

In all my years of trying to hold fast to the things I was NEVER going to do and in all the years of trying to find Mama’s signature flavor, I had finally achieved it, though under heavy criticism from girls with bikini selfies for profile shots.  It took twenty years of effort and $40 worth of meat to achieve what Mama could do with a $7 round steak in just under one hour.  Unfortunately, I have become spoiled to what I called Slap Ya Mama Steak Tacos, and now that I’ve found my mother’s gravy and given it a twist of my own, I don’t know if there’s any going back!  Those tacos were so good, they would make you want to Slap ya Mama!


Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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