Western Swiss Steak

Ok, ok. After my last post about the joys of Spam, everyone is ready for something that actually tastes good and is, ideally, not a chocolate cake. So here we go: Western Swiss Steak.

Is it steak from the western part of Switzerland? Is it made from a Swiss cow? Or is it Swiss steak made in the style of the Old West?

I don’t know, but you guys, this is tasty. So let’s say you live on an island, but you don’t live in a tropical paradise (ahem, Scotland), and so you’re still stuck in the throes of winter, with spring nowhere on the horizon. You’re trying your hardest not to think about spring… or summer… because you know you’ve got another month before the weather is anything less than grey. The days have finally lengthened enough that it’s daylight when you leave work in the evenings (for at least half of the bus ride home), which is worth celebrating, but you’re still trying to temper your excitement because, I mean, it’s at least another month or so before you start getting any real flowers outside or any predictable sunshine. This is the perfect dish for you. This isn’t a steak recipe, but it’s also not a stew. It doesn’t require fresh veggies, in case your grocery, like mine, is currently a minefield of nothing but root vegetables and a few sickly-looking tomatoes. In the vein of coq au vin or cassoulet, this is a hearty dish perfect for noshing after a day out hiking the moors… or, you know, an average weekend. The tomatoes reduce to a sticky, tangy sauce and the onions give the meat an amazing flavour. Plus, the meat comes out so tender and delicious you can cut it with a fork. If you’re trying to add a little more veg to your diet, this would be amazing with a couple of handfuls of mushrooms, or some cippolini onions or a bunch of tiny shallots. You could also easily double or triple the garlic and leave some of the cloves unpeeled to roast really nicely and bulk up the non-meat parts of this meal. It’s definitely a hearty dish, so you’ll want something light to go with it, like a green salad with vinaigrette to help offset the heavier, mellow flavours of the main course. And since it shares all the characteristics of a really amazing stew, it gets even better the second day, when the flavours have continued to meld together.

Best of all, this is super easy—especially if you can get your hands on a giant piece of beef instead of the wee ones like we found. It even gives you a chance to use your meat mallet (the absolute joy of Judson’s life, who always wants to be involved with any recipe that allows for use of a tenderiser). And since it cooks for several hours, you can even get your whole kitchen clean before dinner, then serve this to friends who will be in awe of your homemaking abilities.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. You want something cosy and warm that will make your entire house smell amazing, something to eat while you listen to the rain pattering on your roof and daydream about vacations past (and yet to come)... so make this for dinner ASAP. We’re heading off to Tenerife next week to celebrate our anniversary, but in the meantime, I’m going to be eating this for dinner (and lunch tomorrow) while I anxiously await my next holiday.

New! One Year ago: Crepes!

The recipe:

Western Swiss Steak

The directions:

Pound flour into steak, ½ c on each side if you're using one large piece of meat, or generously on each side of smaller pieces.
Preheat oven to 160C/325F.
Heat oil in a deep, oven-safe casserole on the stove.
When hot, drop steak into pan.
Brown both sides, then add onion, tomatoes, and garlic.
Pour in enough water to barely cover meat (for me, this was only about ¼ c).
Cover with a tight lid and cook in preheated oven about 2-2 ½ hours.
Dish is done when meat is fork-tender but still pink in middle and sauce has thickened and reduced slightly.
Just before serving, add salt and pepper and serve warm.

the ingredients:

2 lbs round, 1-inch thick
1 c flour
3 tbs olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
20 oz can chopped tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

See above for other suggestions to jazz this up if you want to (but it's great as-is)!