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Swiss Steak or Old Fashioned Country Round Steak

This country favorite goes by several names in the United States, and is often called 'Swiss Steak'. Some others refer to it as old-fashioned country round steak, which is perhaps a more accurate title for my dish as the meat has not been 'swissed'. But whatever you call it, this flavorful braised beef main course is certainly hearty and delicious in the dead of winter. So that's what I'm preparing today.

Julian's Old-Fashioned Country Round Steak
Contrary to the name, swiss steak does not come from Switzerland. Swiss steak is named as such because the meat has undergone a process called “swissing” in order to make it tender. Swissing, which is also used a term used in textile production, refers to a process of hammering, pounding, or rolling a material to soften it up. When talking about meats, butchers take tough cuts of beef and pound them or roll them or run them through a meat tenderizer. To Americans that is what we call cube steak, and this is what most Americans think of when we say swiss steak, a cube steak cooked in a gravy or sauce.

Brown the meat without crowding the pan.
This is a boneless round steak. Either bone in or out works.
My mother frequently made this hearty country dinner in the winter time, as it requires a long slow cook in the oven to tenderize the beef. She always used a cut of round steak, which I'm also using today. The round steak provides for a better flavor and the long slow cook will insure it comes out fork tender. After you brown it and make the sauce on the cooktop, it does go into the oven for three full hours, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Always served with a side of mashed potatoes also covered in the delicious gravy from the roasting pan, this meal is sure to satisfy the hungry man in your life.

Ready for the oven.
Ingredients
1 thick slice of round steak about 1-inch thick.
       (bone in or boneless)
1 large yellow onion, peeled
1 pound whole white button mushrooms, washed
oil or Crisco for frying
1/4 cup flour
seasoned salt or other seasonings of choice
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Cut the beef steak into individual serving sizes and set aside. Roughly chop the onion and cut the larger mushrooms into quarters or halves, leaving the smaller ones whole. Mix the flour with 2 teaspoons of seasoned salt or other favorite seasonings.

Heat the oil or Crisco in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Dredge a piece of meat in the seasoned flour and place in the skillet. Repeat with additional pieces but insuring the skillet is not over-crowded. (I usually get 8 pieces of meat from the round steak and fry them half at a time.) Turn when well browned on one side and brown the other side. Place the browned pieces in the bottom of a roasting pan or large Dutch oven.

When all the meat is browned, add the chopped onion to the skillet and stir in the drippings until just tender about 3-4 minutes. Transfer onions to the roasting pan with the meat. Add the red wine to the skillet and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the beef broth and tomato paste and stir to combine. Let cook until starting to boil lightly. Add the mushrooms to the roasting pan and pour the sauce over the meat onions and mushrooms.

Cover and place in the hot oven. Cook for three hours. After each hour of cooking, stir the ingredients. If the sauce is not thickened after the second hour, remove the lid and let it cook for 30-40 minutes uncovered to reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce. Stir as needed to insure the meat or sauce does not become too browned. Return lid to the pot when sauce is appropriately thickened to the consistence of classic beef gravy.

Remove from oven after three hours when meat is fork tender. Let cool for 15-30 minutes. Plate and spoon the sauce over the meat and a side of mashed potatoes.

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