Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring My Friend Al

Plated Swiss Steak 2
Swiss Steak


Every Tuesday I choose a different a friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe.


My tutor today is a friend I met through blogging years ago - back when Xanga was still the place cool kids went and back when I was really struggling to find myself. I don't really remember how I found Al's blog - he may have been a friend of a friend of a friend - but his blunt and unashamed blogging style hooked me. Al was never afraid to speak his mind, to call out online-bullying, or to offer help and support in whatever way he could.

Al's blog is not a food blog - it's more of a candid "day in the life of" journal. No crazy giveaways, no food challenges, no fancy photography. Just good honest blogging - which really seems to be a lost art form for most of us. However, if you want to check out Al's blog, you will need to sign-up for a Xanga account first...

Author's Photo

If you search my recipe index with a discerning eye, you will undoubtedly notice one big glaring hole: I haven't shared any beef recipes. Do I have some prejudice against all-American red meat? Not really - I've just never been a huge fan of beef. Maybe it's all the chewing of the meat or all the unnecessary fat packed in with the protein. Or more likely, it's because I really don't know how to cook it.

My friends all know I have troubles with beef, no matter the medium. My meatballs fall apart, my hamburgers are mush, my stew meat is tough, and my steaks - well, I've never made a steak but I'd to assume it would be terrible! Thus, when Al tagged me on Facebook in a series of photos documenting his legendary Swiss Steak recipe, I decided it was time to bravely venture (or tiptoe quietly) into beef unknown. The best part? This steak was easy, flavorful, comforting - and not the least bit chewy! 

Original recipe courtesy of my friend, Al

Sifted All Purpose Flour
Before touching the steaks, I prepped everything first. I stared my sifting 1/2 of flour into
a dish for dredging. A pie plate or quiche dish works well... 

Steak Seasoning & Seasoning Salt
Add your seasoning - Al's recipe says one should use McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
and Lawry's steak seasoning. I found the McCormick seasoning but could not find the Lawry's.
So I used 3 Tablespoons of Montreal seasoning and 2 Tablespoons of my own seasoning salt mix.
Unless you really like a spicy kick, you may want to cut back on the amounts =)

2 Sliced Yellow Onions
I also sliced two medium yellow onions - Al wasn't specific on how much onion would be
appropriate, but I love onion so I went with my instinct for two

Top Round Steak
Al's recipe calls for 2-3 pounds of steak. As you can see, I went with just over 1.5 pounds
There was plenty of meat for two hungry people, but you'll want to increase if you're feeding
a hungry family. If I made this again, I'll look for organic grass-fed beef - if I can find it :(

Top Round Steak Portioned
I cut my steak into good sized chunks. These will be flattened during the tenderizing process
and will cook down considerably during the 3 hour simmer

Steak to be Pounded between Wax Paper
I placed by beef between two sheets of waxed paper before pounding. I find this technique
works well with chicken too - and it keeps my rolling pin mostly clean. If you're using a meat
tenderizing mallet, you may not want to use a top-layer of waxed paper.
Al's instructions said to use newspaper, but since I hate the thought of inks getting into my
food, I chose to skip the newspaper in favor of waxed paper

Tenderized Stead after Pounding
After bashing thoroughly with my stick rolling pin, the meat is tenderized and my
apartment neighbors are terrorized ;) 

Dredging Tenderized Steak in Seasoned Flour
Al's instructions said to sprinkle the seasoned flour over the meat, but in order to better contain
the mess, I chose to dredge the meat in the dish instead. Really work in the seasoning with
your fingers

Seasoned Tenderized Steak Ready for Searing
Once the meat is fully coated, sprinkle a little extra seasoning flour over each piece of meat
In a further step, you will tenderize with your rolling pin or mallet a second time

Heat Olive Oil in Enameled Cast Iron
Before I finished tenderizing the steaks, I heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy
enameled cast iron dutch oven. Al used pans, but this worked well for me

Sauteeing Yellow Onions
I sauteed my onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat until they were just starting to soften

Removed most of the onions before searing meat
To be sure I got a really nice sear on the meat and developed good color, I removed
most of the onions before added the steaks

Reserved Sauteed Yellow Onions
My reserved onions

Pounding Seasoning into Steak
I beat the seasonings into the meat for a second time. Make sure to flip the steaks and beat
both sides to ensure the seasoning mixture really gets into the meat

Sear/Brown Steak for 3 minutes on each side
Then I added the steaks into the hot dutch oven. You really want your pan hot before
adding the steak - you should hear an immediate loud sizzle when the steak touches the pan

Seared Steaks
After browning one side of the meat, flip and repeat on the second side.
This took about 3 minutes on each side

4 Cups Water Added
Once the browning is complete, add enough water to cover the steaks. DO NOT OVERFILL

Bench Scaper to clean counter
I used a bench scraper to get up most of the leftover flour on the board - although much of mine
was still neatly contained in the dredging dish

Seasoning Flour Added to Thicken Sauce
All that left-over seasoned flour goes right into the pan to thicken and create a lovely sauce

Reserved Onions Added Back In
At this point, I also tipped back in my reserved onions. If you do not want your onions to
completely break down during the 3-hour simmer, you can hold onto the onions until
the last hour of cooking, then add at that point

Simmer Sauce for 3 Hours
The toughest part is waiting 3 hours while the meat simmers. Make sure to simmer uncovered
and stir the meat once every 30 minutes or so to help prevent everything from sticking to the
bottom of the pan. Here's a shot after 1 hour of simmering...

After 2 hours of simmering
After 2 hours of simmering...

Sliced Mushrooms
I decided to add some sliced baby bella mushrooms to my sauce

Mushrooms Added to Sauce
I used one pint of mushrooms and for my sauce it was the perfect amount 

After 3 Hours of Simmering
After 3 hours of simmer, the Swiss steaks are finally ready to serve

Plated Swiss Steak 2
I served my steak alongside roasted root vegetables and cauliflower/potato puree.
It turns out, the sauce for the Swiss steaks makes a mighty tasty gravy!


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • This recipe is proof you don't need an expensive cut of beef to arrive at a tender and delicious ending - the secret is all in the prep (all that pounding of the meat) and the long but gentle cook time. For those of you who love slow-cookers, I envision this could be easily converted into an 5-hour, hands-free slow-cooked recipe
     
  • If you don't want to buy the seasonings Al and I have used, you can make a fair approximate by mixing celery salt, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, sweet paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and a little dried parsley and basil
     
  • Despite the delicious flavors, melt-in-your-mouth meat and rich sauce, this really is not a terribly unhealthy meal, especially if you pair it with healthful sides like a hearty greens salad, roasted vegetables, or mashed potato/cauliflower puree. There's no butter, no cream and lots of delicious onions
     
  • You probably don't want to prepare this after the kids go to bed - smacking the meat with a tenderizer is ridiculously noisy and your kids (and neighbors) may come running to confirm that you finally (as expected) have gone insane


7 comments:

  1. What a FABULOUS tutorial! LOVE all the photos and the method is so clear! Great post and recipe as always!
    Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen - I had a very good tutor and the recipe was a lot of fun to make. That always helps :)

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  2. Oh, my hubby and boys would love this dish! I have fallen short when trying to make Swiss steak...so I will try your version (thanks, Al!) next~

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    1. Oh, I'm so happy you're planning to try - let me know how it turns out and I'll tell Al to check out your comments =)

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  3. Looks wonderful...I will definately be visiting my local butcher at the Farmer's Market this weekend and trying this recipe. I love all the onions and the addition of the mushrooms is great. My hubby loves mushrooms. I will let you know how it turns out. I think I may crock pot it! :) Thanks and thanks to Al!

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    1. Fantastic! The mushrooms did had a nice texture and flavor to the sauce and I really recommend adding them during the last hour of simmering so they don't completely dissolve into the sauce :)

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  4. Looks really-really good....now you have me wanting to try that one too! The mushrooms are a great add, I love mushrooms : )

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