Swiss Steak with Grass Fed Beef
I have an admiration for the folks of Switzerland. From their awesome pocket knives to yodeling, skiing, banking and watches, they seem to have it all…zest for life and knowing how to live it with efficiency, frugality, agility and style. I mean yodeling…one must have an agile tongue to communicate across the mountains without having to pay for long distance…and what a style of vocal expression! I’ve admired them so long that back when C.B. radios were the latest craze, I hung out on the airwaves with all the radio geeks proudly proclaiming my handle as The Swiss Miss. I’m not Swiss in any way…rather American mutt with strong ties to Wales and England.
I’m not sure if the Swiss really invented it but the Swiss steak is a good example of how to be frugal and efficient. This inexpensive cut of meat could easily wind up having the texture of a brand new leather belt but braising, or cooking in liquid, is the technique used to transform this cheaper cut into a tender piece of delicious meat.
It helps to have a really good piece of meat to start. Grass fed beef certainly has a quality that doesn’t begin to compare with anything you would find in the supermarket. A local rancher that raises beef in such a way is a good person to know. My husband and I lucked into such a connection and purchased an eighth of a cow with a group of friends. Since the round steak was the first steak brought out of the box, I decided to make a good supper out of it.
First, I gave the steak a really good pounding right inside the package to help tenderize the meat. I dug the electric skillet out of the pantry and set it on high with a bit of olive oil in it, then placed the steak in it to sear off the one side. To the other side I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of flour, some salt and lots of pepper. When a little fat rendered I turned the steak over and let the floured side sizzle a bit. I sprinkled a little bit more flour around the edges to let it form a pasty roux then added two cups of water and a touch more salt. The water bubbling together with the flour and caramelized juices from the meat soon thickened into a rich brown gravy.
It was then time to add a couple more layers of flavor. I used some chopped fresh oyster mushrooms I grew (that is another story) and some dehydrated onions (also another story). I let this bubble away with the lid on for the next three hours. About midway, I added another half cup of water. In the end I added some more pepper and parsley flakes as a finishing touch.
I could really taste the freshness and naturalness in the meat. Wow! What a difference! I could also cut this meat with my fork. Round steak is naturally chewy but not as much as I expected.
An eighth of a cow measures out to be about 60 pounds of meat so I’d say that the future can only get better from this point. There are sirloins, roasts, porterhouse steaks and a good amount of ground beef, all look so good I think I might need to work out a few days before I tackle any more meat cooking projects…but they will happen. Stay tuned!