Don’t let the name fool you — Swiss steak isn’t really from Switzerland. Swiss steak borrows its name from the term “swissing,” which refers to the procedure of softening either meat or fabric by beating it with a tenderizing hammer or rolling it between a set of bladed rollers. In the 1930s, the first Swiss steak recipe emerged and in the late 1940s, Reynolds Wrap Aluminum promoted the recipe for Swiss steak as a way to use its foil. While the recipe has many variations, it’s still a nutritious comfort food; paired with mashed potatoes and its sauce as gravy, it’s hard to beat.
Things You'll Need
Cooking Swiss Steak
Lay your steaks flat on the counter and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. You can omit the salt, or use less, if you’re on a salt-sensitive diet. Add a dash of garlic powder or garlic salt if desired. Rub the spices into both sides of the meat.
Tenderize the meat if you are using chuck, shoulder, or any steak other than cube steak. (Cube steak is already swissed). Use the textured side of a meat hammer to beat the meat and break the connective tissue. Pound both sides, but avoid leaving your meat in shreds.
Pour either flour or instant potato flakes into a bowl; the exact amount needed will vary according to the amount of meat you’re cooking. A half cup to a cup should be sufficient for two or three pounds of steak, but you can always add more flour or throw excess away.
Place a large, deep frying pan on your stove and add enough cooking oil to cover the bottom in a skim coat (perhaps 3 or 4 tablespoons). Heat over medium to medium-high heat.
Dip your steak pieces in the flour, flipping over to coat both sides equally. Rub flour into the meat as necessary, then place in the heated oil to fry.
Brown first one side of the meat, then flip the meat to brown the other side. This takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes depending on the amount of meat and thickness of the cut. Remove the meat from the frying pan and drain on a plate covered with paper towels.
Mince fresh garlic if you didn’t use powdered garlic on the meat and cut an onion into rings; use more or less onion and garlic according to your taste. Add another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and saute until the onions are translucent.
Return your browned meat to the frying pan, arranging the onions on top of and around your steaks. Pour 2 to 3 cups tomato puree or 1 cup tomato sauce and 2 cups diced or stewed tomatoes on top of the steak.
Peel or clean your choice of vegetables to add to your swiss steak. Commonly used vegetables include carrots, green peppers and sometimes green beans and potatoes. You can leave out the potatoes if you prefer to boil your mashed potatoes. Cut 2 or 3 lbs. potatoes, a pound of carrots and 2 or 3 green peppers into small pieces several inches in diameter. Add a pound of string beans, whole. (Adjust the amounts of vegetables, other than potatoes, to taste.)
Add vegetables to the steak and tomato mixture. Cover with a lid and simmer over very low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Swiss steak is done when it feels tender to the poke of a fork.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Peel 2 or 3 lbs. of potatoes if you are boiling your mashed potatoes rather than stewing them with the Swiss steak. Remove any eyes or imperfections in the flesh and rinse under cold water. If you’re mashing the potatoes cooked with the Swiss steak, skip to adding butter and milk.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise into quarters, then into chunks of about two inches. Throw the potatoes into a large saucepan as you work.
Run cold water into the pan until the potatoes are covered. Add a pinch of salt.
Bring your potatoes to a fast boil, then reduce the heat to cook the potatoes at a strong simmer. Test the potatoes at 20 minutes, poking a fork into a few pieces. If a potato resists the fork, boil a few more minutes before testing again.
Drain the potatoes thoroughly. Immediately add 1/2 cup milk and a stick of butter. Sprinkle salt and pepper, as desired, over the entire ingredients.
Use either a potato masher or electric mixer to mash your potatoes. Use an up and down movement with the masher, or break the potatoes up with your electric mixer turned off, then turn it on and work sideways around the pan.
Increase the speed of your mixer as the potatoes smooth out. Add additional milk, 1/8 of a cup at a time, as needed to make the potatoes creamy. Stop mashing with either when the potatoes are smooth and lump-free. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm until ready to serve.
Remove 1/3 of a cup of the Swiss steak sauce if the sauce is too thin. Add 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the removed sauce. Stir until well blended.
Pour the cornstarch and sauce mixture back into the steak mixture. Increase the heat slightly and stir continuously for 3 to 5 minutes, while the sauce thickens slightly.
Put the steaks on a platter, arranging the vegetables around the meat. Pour a portion of the sauce over the meat; place the rest in a bowl to use as gravy over your mashed potatoes.
Swiss steaks can also be cooked, after browning in a frying pan, in either a crock pot or in the oven. Place the steaks in your crock pot and pour the tomatoes and vegetables over top, then cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours. Alternatively, arrange in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours, monitoring it in the last half hour and testing for tenderness to determine if it is done.
Use an appropriate potato for best results in mashed potatoes (see Resources).
References and ResourcesSimply Recipes; Swiss Steak; Elise Bauer; June 2006
SwissSteak.org; Swiss Steak; May 2011
"Hers;" Easy Swiss Steak; Laura South
Startcooking.com; How to Make Mashed Potatoes; Kathy Maister
Simply Recipes; Perfect Mashed Potatoes; Elise Bauer; Nov. 2005
ResourcesStella Culinary; How To Cook Mashed Potatoes; Jacob Burton
All About Potatoes: Different Types of Potatoes