Swiss steak is a braised beef recipe traditionally made with thick pieces of beef round, although you can also use chuck shoulder steak. The main thing is to use a tough cut of meat, as a couple of hours slow braising will tenderize it very nicely.
Beef round, if you're not familiar with it, is a cut of beef that comes from the rear leg and rump of the animal. As such, it gets a lot of exercise, which makes it tough, because the more exercise a muscle gets, the more connective tissue develops around the muscle fibers.
Some swiss steak recipes call for using thinner cuts of meat which are run through a meat cuber (or "swissing machine") (which is how cube steak is made) for the purpose of tenderizing it. This type of mechanical tenderizing helps break up the connective tissue, making it easier to chew.
But this isn't strictly necessary since the braising is going to tenderize it anyway. Also, running meat through the cuber requires thinner cuts of meat, which takes away from the succulent, satisfying result you get with a thicker steak.
Finally, some recipes will have you dredge the meat in seasoned flour before browning it and then braising it, which only browns the flour, not the meat. And browning the meat develops a lot more complex flavors than merely browning the flour.
- 2 pounds beef round steaks (5-6 ounces apiece, around 6 steaks)
- 2 ounces cooking oil
- 1 large onion (peeled, halved and sliced)
- 2 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups beef stock or beef broth
- 1 (14.5 ounces) can diced tomatoes (plus the liquid)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 300 F. Dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until it's almost smoking, then gently add two or three of the steaks. The idea is not to overcrowd the pan. Brown one side for about four minutes (you want a nice, dark crust), then flip and brown the other side. Set aside the browned steaks and repeat until you've browned them all.
- Now add the onion to the fat in the pan and cook for a few minutes until translucent and slightly golden brown.
- Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and incorporate until a thick roux forms. Lower heat and cook the roux for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it takes on a light brown hue. Don't let it burn!
- Now add the diced tomatoes and the stock. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the bay leaf and simmer the sauce for about five minutes or until it starts to thicken.
- Next, return the browned steaks to the sauce and arrange them so that they're covered by the liquid. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.
- Braise for about an hour and a half or until the meat is extremely tender. Serve each steak with a generous portion of the sauce.