I’m beginning with this recipe for no other reason than that I made it last night. The pics are not that great, but I hope to do better later.
This recipe is a combination of a few you might know as Swiss Steak and Salisbury Steak, although the latter is supposed to be made with minced beef. Unlike most recipes for cube steaks, this recipe braises the meat in the oven until tender, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. I don’t consider it to be a version of Chicken-Fried Steak because there is no breading with egg, just a flour dredge, and no white gravy at the end. Still, it might have gone by that name in your house.
It is probably influenced by how my mother made Swiss Steak, although I’m not sure she called it that. She would buy a whole round steak—which I never see in the grocery store anymore—cut it into about five pieces, dredge them in seasoned flour, brown in hot fat, then braise in about a cup of water until tender, maybe an hour. I’m doing the same thing, but with cube steaks.
Starting with a package of cube steaks, about 5-6 in a package, I shake them in a bag of well-seasoned flour. I just use a good amount of salt and pepper, but you could certainly add an herb to the flour for another taste, maybe thyme. After browning in hot oil on both sides, the steaks are placed in a stoneware baking pan, covered with sliced onions and 2-3 cups of beef broth or bouillon, covered with foil or a lid and braised in the oven at 375° until tender, at least 45 mins.
Smothered Cube Steaks
Preheat oven 375°
1 package cube steaks (about 5-6 pieces)
1 cup flour, seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Oil, for frying
2-3 medium onions, sliced thinly
Better than Bouillon® beef base, prepared with 2-3 cups water (it really is better than bouillon and most canned broth or stock)
Season flour in a large zippered plastic bag or mix in dish large enough to dredge steak pieces. Dredge steaks in flour, which means that the flour should be worked into the meat so it adheres during the cooking steps. Lay out the pieces on paper towels while heating the oil in a large heavy pan. I use olive oil.
Fry the floured steaks on medium-high heat until browned on both sides. Fry no more than two-three pieces at a time so they are not crowded in the pan. remove browned steaks to baking pan. I use a heavy stoneware 13″ x 9″ pan, but you could probably use any heavy roasting pan or glass dish.
Add the sliced onions on top of the steak. I do not do the extra step of frying the onions, but that could be done for a more brown appearance; they will not brown in the braising process under foil. If you have extra flour leftover from the dredging, you can sprinkle some of it into the pan to be sure the resulting juices are thickened into a gravy. Pour the 2-3 cups of beef bouillon over all. Cover tightly with foil or use a lid if your pan has one.
Bake/roast for at least 45 minutes and check for doneness. It may seem fork tender at 45 minutes, but could still be tough if you cannot cut it easily with a fork. Sometimes the connective tissues take longer to break down. I have had to leave it in the oven for another 45 minutes. I would rather take the extra time than struggle with tough meat.
Smothered cube steaks are great with smashed potatoes and your favorite cooked vegetable. This is typical comfort food—beef, gravy, potatoes. Just don’t eat it every day.