Monday, March 23, 2015

Classic Swiss Steak with Pink Peppercorns

     A Classic Swiss Steak With Crushed Brazilian Peppercorns! 
     Swiss Steak is an old classic American comfort food entrée.  The name Swiss Steak has nothing to do with the country of Switzerland, other than a loose association with Emmentaler Cheese (Swiss Cheese).  "Swissing a cut of meat" means the same thing as "cubing a cut of meat."
     Early in the 1900's, "Swissing" referred to a method of tenderizing a tough cut of beef by poking it with tiny holes.  After Swissing, the connective tissues is broken down and the meat is thoroughly tenderized.
     Hand held tenderizing devices or mechanical cubing machines make quick work out of making a cube Steak.  A hand held Jaccard Blade Tenderizer is spring loaded and it has about 48 thin blades that puncture the meat at one time.  A Jaccard Blade Tenderizer can be used to Swiss or Cube a cut of tough beef to make Swiss Steak.
     Porterhouse Steak is another item that requires Swissing with a Jaccard Blade Tenderizer.  The wide Short Loin Steak section on a Porterhouse Steak has to be briefly Swissed, so the thin streak of tough connective tissue that runs through the Short Loin side of the bone is cut.
     A T-Bone Steak is cut just a little bit further ahead on the Loin Section closer to rib section than a Porterhouse.  There is no streak of connective tissue gristle on a T-Bone because the wide steak meat attached to the bone actually is a Strip Loin Steak.  The gristle streak ends at the start of the Strip Loin Section, so a good T-Bone is never Swissed with a Jaccard Blade Tenderizer.        

     A cubing machine has 2 rollers that have surfaces that look like sharp diamond studs.  When a tough cut of beef is squeezed between the rollers it is flattened and poked full of holes.  Some cubing machines have thin blades and they do the same job.

     A Swissed Steak does retain most of its original shape, but the texture is full of small holes, like Swiss Cheese.  At a grocery store or butcher shop, a Swissed Steak is usually called a Cube Steak.  Cube Steaks are made from cheap tough pieces of beef, so the price of a Cube Steak is very cheap.  Swiss Steak became a popular home cooked meal in the early to mid 1900's because it was an economical way to feed a big family for a few dollars.  After sautéing, several Swissed Steaks could be braised at one time in a big roasting pan in an oven.  The longer the braising time, the more tender the Swiss Steak Entrée would be.

     While growing up, I remember other kids saying "so and so's mom makes a great Swiss Steak!"  A few of us kids used to say "Wow!  I wish my mom could cook a good swiss steak!  My mom burns everything up!"
     Swiss Steak nearly always used to be the first beef steak with sauce kind of entrée that kids experiences.  Because Swiss Steak is tenderized, it is easy for kids to chew and digest.  A poorly cooked Swiss Steak does nothing to further a child's interest in sauced beef steak recipes.  A good Swiss Steak can easily cause a child to develop an interest in culinary arts.

     Anyway, lousy Swiss Steak was a standard offering at awful cheap buffets in America for several decades.  That did nothing for the reputation of Swiss Steak.  In recent years, I have only seen Swiss Steak offered as a blue plate special at greasy spoon diners.  Swiss Steak is not as popular as it once was when it was novel and new.  This is because the lousy Swiss Steaks served at low quality restaurants really burnt out this classic entrée.

     There are many descriptions of Swiss Steak on the internet and few refer to the earliest original recipe.  The early Swiss Steak recipes was made with a thin brown gravy that had home grown tomato, bell pepper and onion in the sauce.  Black pepper and cider vinegar flavored the sauce.  The acidic sauce helped to tenderize the meat.

     Swiss Steak made the old fashioned original way with fresh ingredients is truly a nice entrée!  Instead of black pepper, I decided to add a few pinches of Brazilian Pink Peppercorn.  Pink Peppercorn has a natural smokey black pepper flavor that is perfect for Swiss Steak.  Glace Viande creates a much richer flavor than beef stock.  Wine also is part of a good Swiss Steak recipe and it also adds acidity.

     Glacé Viande:
     This recipe yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of glacé viande.  A little glacé viande goes a long way!
     Step 1:  Place 4 pounds of veal bones, lamb bones, beef bones, pork bones and meat scraps in a roasting pan.
     Add 5 ounces of tomato paste.
     Add 8 to 10 ounces of rustic un-peeled mirepoix of carrot, celery and onion.
     Stir the mixture together.
     Step 2:  Roast the mixture in a 350ºF oven, till the bones and vegetables caramelize to a deep brown color.  (Stir the ingredients occasionally.)
     Step 3:  Place the roasted bones and mirepoix in a stock pot.
     Deglaze the roast pan with water and add the jus to the stock pot.
     Step 4:  Cover the bones with 2 " of extra water. 
     Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat 
     Simmer for 4 hours.
     Add water occasionally to cover the bones.
     Step 6:  Remove most of the bones from the pot and discard them.  
     Pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot.
     Discard the bones and vegetables.
     Skim off all of the grease that floats to the top.
     Step 7:  Place the pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Simmer the meat stock, till the volume reduces by a little more than half.
     The glacé viande should be able to thinly coat and glaze the back of a spoon.
     *This is a very rich unseasoned stock that can be frozen in portions for later use.  When the glacé viande is used in recipes, it will be reduced to a slightly thicker consistency. 

     Classic Swiss Steak with Pink Peppercorns:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Step 1:  Very lightly season a 10 ounce cube steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Dredge the cube steak in flour.
     Step 2:  Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Place the floured cube steak in the pan.
     Sauté the cube steak on both sides, till it is lightly browned.
     Step 3:  Remove the sautéed cube steak from the pan and set is aside.
     Drain the grease out of the sauté pan.
     Step 4:  Return the sauté pan to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 5:  Add 3 tablespoons of small diced red bell pepper.
     Sauté till the red bell peppers tender and the onions are lightly caramelized.
     Step 6:  Add 2 tablespoon of finely minced peeled and seeded Plum Tomato.
     Sauté for a few seconds till the tomato starts to cook.
     Step 7:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 2 ounces of dry sherry.
     Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 2 cups of rich beef stock.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 small pinch of white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of paprika.
     Step 8:  Return the reserved sautéed cube steak to the sauce in the pan.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a very thin sauce consistency.
     Step 9:  Add 2 ounces of the glacé viande.
     Continue to simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a medium thin glacé sauce consistency that easily clings to the steak.
     Use a spatula to place the Swiss Steak on a plate.
     Place a potato and vegetable of your choice on the plate.
     *The Swiss Steak in the pictures was served with seasoned buttered Boiled Purple Peruvian Potatoes & Blanched Julienne Carrots.
     Generously spoon the braising sauce over the Swiss Steak.
     Sprinkle 3 or 4 pinches of Crushed Pink Peppercorns over the Swiss Steak and sauce.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Viola!  A great Swiss Steak that actually is a little bit on the gourmet side of the line!  

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