On a budget

Swiss steak

(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)
December 9, 2009

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Serves 4

Swiss steak has nothing to do with Switzerland. It’s a dish made with cube steak, which was very popular in the ’50s and ’60s. In case you missed it, it’s back and enjoying a renewed appreciation. This inexpensive, lean, tough cut - thin slices cut from the top of the beef round - is processed by rollers that dimple the meat in neat cubes to tenderize it, also known as “swissing.’’ This is a good, cheap retro dish worth reviving.

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
4 cube steaks (about 2 pounds), cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can (15-ounce) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, cut in 1-inch pieces
1. On a plate, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat the meat with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook the meat on both sides, in batches to avoid crowding the pan, if necessary, for 3 minutes on a side or until browned. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the onion and celery to the skillet and stir to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables soften.

4. Stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Nestle the steaks in the sauce. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 40 minutes.

5. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for 20 more minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a skewer. (Total cooking time is 1 hour.) Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sally Pasley Vargas