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A Good Smothered Steak


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Rich, beefy smothered steak is comfort food, with a long simmering time. It’s Friday food here at our farm, as long as there’s round steak in the freezer, although we make exceptions for guests and serve it on other days if the guests are special enough. Usually I prepare it in a big skillet on the kitchen stove, but when I don’t want to heat up the kitchen by having a burner going for three hours or so, I move to the front porch where I can set up the electric skillet on a sturdy table.

Warning! This is not a low-calorie, diet-friendly dish.

I wasn’t kidding about the three hours part. Since it’s generally made from a tougher cut of beef, good smothered steak requires a quick browning, then a long, low simmer to reach the juicy, fork-tender state.

Set the skillet to medium heat and melt about a half stick of butter. (Use olive or canola oil if you’d rather, or whatever shortening you prefer for browning meat.)

While the butter’s melting, cut the round steak into sections, removing as much as the fat and connective tissue as you can. I start by cutting out the bone (and tossing it to the most deserving dog). Then I separate the round steak along the natural dividing lines in the meat, cutting out the tougher connective tissue as I go.

Sometimes I leave the sections large enough for single servings, and sometimes I divide those into halves or thirds. It depends on what I’ll be serving with the smothered steak, how it’ll look on the plate, and what I’m in the mood to do.

Add salt and pepper to taste to about a cup of flour–garlic, too, if you like–then generously coat the meat with the mixture.

When the butter’s sizzling hot, place the floured meat in the skillet to brown.

The floured portion has a tendency to stick, so use a metal spatula and scrape under the meat carefully when you turn it. I can usually tell when the first side’s about done because the meat juices will have soaked through most of the flour that’s stuck to the uncooked top. Note–you might need to lightly grease the skillet when you turn each piece if there’s not enough butter or oil left to sear and sizzle the uncooked side.

Remove each piece when both sides are browned but not thoroughly cooked. The meat should still be oozing pink juices at this point.

This next stage is optional. I like a bit more sauce with the smothered steak, so prepare a roux for a gravy base at this point. To do this, melt another chunk of butter, maybe 2 tablespoons. Add an equal amount of flour, stir together, and let cook until the mixture bubbles nicely. Slowly add beef broth (or water), and stir until a smooth thin gravy forms.

Slide the meat pieces into the skillet on top of the gravy. Add more broth or water until the meat is mostly covered.

Even with my biggest skillet, I usually have two layers of meat in the skillet at this stage. I make sure the bottom layer is completely submerged in the gravy and the top layer is nicely surrounded but not covered. (If you’ve opted to skip the ‘extra gravy’ stage, just arrange all the meat in the skillet and add about two cups of broth or water.)

Turn the heat down to a very low simmer. Cook covered for at least an hour, although two hours or even more is better.

The goal is a long, slow cooking time to tenderize all those tough muscle fibers and whatever connective tissue couldn’t easily be cut out.

On hot summer days, I prefer it served with newly dug yellow flesh potatoes and garden fresh tomato slices. Other times, I like it better with rice or noodles.

It’s not half bad straight out of the fridge at midnight either–that’s assuming any leftovers make it into the refrigerator.

Find this recipe on Farm Bell Recipes for the handy print page and save it to your recipe box:
Smothered Steak

You can also find LauraP at The Land of Moo.

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Posted by on August 9, 2010 | Permalink  

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18 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 8-9

    Slay me now. I just gained 5 pounds, and all I did was drool over this post!

  2. 8-9

    OMG, my mouth is watering SO MUCH and I’ve only just eaten breakfast!

  3. 8-9

    Called ‘baked’ steak here, but by any name it’s wonderful! Works in the crockpot too. We buy beef and stock the freezer and this is what happens with all the round steak at my house also – and the Bomb for deer/venison steaks as well.

  4. 8-9

    You are making me so hungry this morning! Can you have smothered steak for breakfast??

  5. 8-9

    I make it this way too but add sliced onions to it.

  6. 8-9

    Looks like a great breakfast! If you happened to have started it yesterday… ūüėČ

    Just yummy sounding, and inspiring me to get an electric skillet.

    My Mom did it backwards – cooked the meat then made the gravy. She never figured out that cooking the meat in the gravy produced a nice tender piece of meat! Bless her.

  7. 8-9

    YES to the onions – I love it this way but usually cook them separately because of a couple of family members who can’t eat them. Mushrooms are good, too.

    Dede – I haven’t been happy with the results from my newer crockpots. The ‘low’ setting isn’t really all that low so the meat came out tough. I need to find a good slow cooker that works like the one I wore out a few years ago. Any recommendations?

  8. 8-9

    LauraP, that’s just the way Mom made it; she called it “Swiss Steak.” Is that Swiss cooking? Whatever, it was always comfort food! Sometimes she sliced potatoes into it, sometimes mashed potatoes. My husband grew up with his round steak cooked in tomatoes and slow baked in the oven. Very similar. And yes, all versions are excellent with venison, antelope or elk steaks.

  9. 8-9

    That looks soooooooo good. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 8-9

    On the slow cooker item – I finally figured out that on my new one (with the dial, not the electronic bells and whistles) “Warm” was about the same temp as “Low” used to be. I frequently use that one, after it comes up to temp using either what is marked as high or low. Figure that maybe that warm setting might heat so slowly that it could be an issue, but it maintains a slow simmer of already heated food just fine.

  11. 8-9

    We do the same thing, but add a can of cream of mushroom soup for the extra gravy.

    Hint: Next morning, dice leftovers pretty small. Made a roux of butter and flour, add milk to make a standard gravy, thicken it slightly, add leftover steak bits and gravy. Heat thoroughly.

    Serve over hot biscuits. I used to just cook smothered steak so the kids could have steak gravy and biscuits the next morning. My daughter is 40 and she still requests it.

    I can’t wait until the steer is ready to butcher. We have the round steak all tenderized so usually l hours is enought time.

    I will have to try it with just regular gravy.

  12. 8-9

    My mom called it “Swiss steak” as well and instead of simmering on the stove for hours, she used a pressure cooker. I’ll tell you, there was almost nothing that my mom couldn’t make in her pressure cooker….years before the invent of the home microwave oven or convection oven.
    I need to make some, for old times sake.

  13. 8-9

    My grandma called it swiss steak too. So so good!

  14. 8-9

    We call it steak casserole and used the cream of mushroom soup. Heaven on a plate!

  15. 8-10

    Laura, I have a new crockpot too. It’s the red oval Hamilton Beach Stay or Go and it’s a learning curve LOL. I am finding that starting things on High and getting them really hot, THEN turning to low does the trick. I still am without an oven too, and it’s been wicked hot and humid in WV so I have also been doing a lot of things in this like mexican layered dishes and such. For those, I have been pre-heating the pot on low and adding ingredients HOT. Cooks on high in a few hours so we can have a meal without added sweat LOL!

  16. 8-10

    I also sometimes add mushrooms as well as onions to our baked/smothered steak and also sometimes use mushroom soup (preferably home-canned). I have also gone much lower fat by using a gravy mix such as Pioneer brand and mixing that with fat free mushroom soup. Don’t add any salt though! whew

  17. 2-15

    Looks like what my mom used to fix and want to try it but I am new to the site and can not find an easy way to print it without getting 12 pages of useless information with it.

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