Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Swiss Steak
Schmor Braten
a recipe 350 years old

Sometimes the old ways are better. Approximately 365 cookbooks are published in the United States alone, every year. It is difficult to imagine that many recipes are new, let alone splendid, or ones that you would add to your repertoire of cooking. Those are the recipes I want. The ones you make over and over. Much to my surprise, I found one in Louis P. De Gouy’s The Gold Cook Book. First printed in 1947, I have a 13th printing from 1960. It has over 2400 recipes in it.

The Gold Cook Book has recipes in the same way that the Joy of Cooking does, something from everywhere, but unlike Joy, De Gouy’s book is written by a master French Chef.

Enough appetizer, here is the recipe:

Swiss Steak
3# round steak, top round preferred
15 oz. Can of Beef Stock
½ cup seasoned flour (see cook’s note below)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bouquet garni consisting of: some bay leaves, 8 sprigs of parsley, a sprig of thyme, 2 ribs of celery, with leaves, if available, tied up with kitchen string
1 clove of garlic
2 whole cloves
8 ounces of tomato sauce
1 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. Of prepared mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of ketchup
oil or dripping for browning the roast

Cook’s Note: I’ve always been confused about how to season flour. For me, it seemed that if you used enough salt and pepper you would be using practically an equivalent weight of flour, salt and pepper. Since the original recipe calls for half a cup of flour or nearly 2 ounces, my guess was to use the same of the salt and pepper. That is way too much. What I have taken to doing is to dry rub the meat with the seasoning, then rolling or dusting with the flour. I have had excellent results so far. I recommend my method to you.


Two hours before you want to start cooking, remove the meat from the ‘frig and allow it to come to room temperature. Two hours later, make the dry rub and flour the round steak just before browning it.

Heat the beef stock, it needn’t boil The microwave is an excellent tool for this.

Heat a skillet and when the pan is hot and wisps of smoke rise from the oil or dripping, add the meat. Brown over high heat on all sides. Put the sliced onions in a casserole or large pot, ready for the roast. When browned, transfer the roast to a large pot, add the heated stock, salt, pepper, the garlic, cloves and bouquet garni. Simmer over low heat for 60 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, mustard and ketchup. Simmer 60 minutes longer, or until the meat may be cut with a fork. Add a little water if there isn’t enough gravy. Add a little flour if it is too thin.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a salad.

A highly hopped beer would go nicely as would a big red wine.

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