It’s Throw Back Thursday – TBT – again and I’m so excited to be in the kitchen whipping up an old fashioned plate of Grandma Jean’s Swiss Steak!
Grandma Jean is my Mom so I always called this dish “Mom’s Swiss Steak”, till my sons begged me to send them the recipe. At that point I realized that the name needed some clarification and it became Grandma Jean’s Swiss Steak recipe. There are 3 simple secrets to this dish and I’m going to share all of them with you. Aren’t I a nice person? Huh? Huh?
First secret – Swiss Steak isn’t a Swiss dish, it’s the name for a method of heavily flouring tough pieces of beef, then pounding the flour into them. This creates a flour “crust” that holds in the beef juices during the long cooking time – producing tender, juicy beef that melts in your mouth.
Second secret you ask? Browning the meat in small batches over high heat, thereby locking in the juices!
And my Mom’s third secret is the big one… are you ready for this? Mushroom Soup! Yep, Grandma Jean always added a can of condensed mushroom soup to her pot of swiss steak. It adds body and flavor and has the added bonus of thickening the gravy as the pot simmers away on the stove for 3 hours. I’ve tried it without the mushroom soup, but the acidic, sharp flavor of the tomatoes without the soup is too strong. The soup is needed to mellow out those pesky tomatoes.
I have a secret of my own when it comes to making swiss steak. I like to vary the ingredients and spice combinations. Now that you know that the term Swiss only refers to the method of tenderizing the beef, feel free to play around with your pot of swiss steak too! But make Grandma Jeans’s swiss steak recipe the first time out – cuz you’ll love it – I swears…
So let’s get to cooking up a big pot of TBT Swiss Steak, shall we? Here are the ingredients I used today:
You can use Top or Bottom Round Steak – or any other tough cut of beef. Mine is a bottom round roast – bout 2 1/2 pounds. Now that you have the ingredients, it’s time to slice up the beef. You want it slightly less than 1/2 inch thick, but don’t stress over it.
Now toss the flour mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap, dredge the slices in the flour and then get busy pounding on it. This is your workout for the day – cancel your pilates class!
Once all the beef has been thoroughly “swissed”, set it aside on a plate to rest. That forms a nice flour crust to help hold in all the beef juices. And on to prepping the onions for the pot! Just a rough chop will do, they’re going to cook down to nothingness in the pot, so don’t get all professional chef-like on them.
Time to brown the beef! See how I only add a few pieces at a time so that they aren’t touching? Yeah, beef doesn’t like to get all touchy feely, so give it some space.
These are some of my favorite kitchen helpers. They're Dang Good and I love 'em!
After you’ve browned and removed all the beef, toss in the onions and brown them up a bit. If you had mushrooms in the fridge and decided to use them in the recipe, now is the time to toss those in too. (Drats, I had no mushrooms today – waaaah!)
Once the onions are golden in color, add the soup and one can of the tomatoes.
And we’re back to the beef! Add it to the pot, then top it off with the other can of tomatoes, the spices AND the water. Bring the whole thing to a full boil, then turn down the heat, plop on the lid and walk away for an hour.
When you come back after an hour you’re gonna “Ohhhhh” and “Ahhhhh” when you lift the lid, cuz it looks like this…
Quit drooling, give it a good stir, put the lid back on and walk away. I said WALK AWAY, it is NOT ready yet! Give it at least one more hour of group blending in the pot before you peek again. And then maybe another hour of mellowing before you serve it.
We used a tough cut of beef on purpose – so that there’d be plenty of time to go clean the house, play with the kids, take a long walk, take a nap, read a book… well, you get the idea, right?
Ok, time for me to go dish up two big plates of Grandma Jean’s Swiss Steak. One for me and one for Tim. And then I’m going to watch tv with my feet up. My Mom was a smart cook – it doesn’t get much better than this!
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Pepper
- 2½ lbs. Top or Bottom Round Steak. sliced slightly thinner than ½"
- Oil for browning the meat
- 1 Large Onion, chopped
- 10 oz. Button Mushrooms, sliced - optional
- 2 cans (10-12 oz each) Diced Tomatoes
- 1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1¼ cups water
- 1 tsp. Thyme
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 Tbsp. Paprika - Optional
- Mix flour, salt and pepper together in a wide, shallow bowl.
- Dredge beef pieces in the flour mixture to coat completely. Pound with a meat mallet or the side of a small, heavy plate until the meat is tender and has become about ¼" thick.
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot over high heat. Fry beef pieces, a few at a time, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate when a browned on both sides. Continue till all the beef is browned.
- Add chopped onions and mushrooms- if using- to the now empty pot, stirring and browning them slightly for 3 minutes. When the onions are light golden in color spoon the mushroom soup into the pot, then top with 1 can of diced tomatoes.
- Return the beef to the pot. Add the second can of tomatoes, the water, then spices, and stir well.
- Bring to a full boil, then turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours till beef is tender. Check the pot every hour, stirring well. Let gravy thicken during the last hour of cooking. If the gravy looks too thin, remove the lid from the pot during that last hour to allow steam to escape.