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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Swiss Steak with Pink Peppercorns
A classic swiss steak with a sprinkle of crushed pink peppercorn!
Swiss steak is an old American favorite entree. The name swiss steak has nothing to do with the country of Switzerland. The process of cubing or swissing a steak involves poking a cheap tough piece of beef steak full of tiny holes, so the connective tissues break down. Hand held tenderizing devices or mechanical cubing machines make quick work out of swissing a steak. A swissed steak does retain most of its original shape, but the texture is full of small holes, like swiss cheese.
At a grocery store or butcher shop, a swissed steak is called a cube steak. Cube steaks are made from cheap tough pieces of beef steak, so the price of a cube steak is very cheap. Swiss steak became a popular home cooked meal, because it was economical.
I remember us kids saying that so and so's mom makes the most awesome swiss steak. A few of us kids used to say "Wow! I wish my mom could cook a good swiss steak!" For children, swiss steak is usually the first beef steak and sauce recipe that they experience. Because swiss steak is tenderized, it is easy for kids to chew and digest. A poorly cooked swiss steak does nothing to further a child's interest in beef steak recipes with sauces. A good swiss steak just might cause a child to become a supreme gourmand!
Anyway, really badly cooked swiss steak was a standard offering at cheap buffets for a long time. That did nothing for the swiss steak's reputation. In recent years, I have seen swiss steak offered only once or twice at cheap buffets and greasy spoon diners. Swiss steak is not as popular as it once was in restaurants, because far too many lousy swiss steaks were offered to the public. At private homes where economical meals are of importance, a good swiss steak can occasionally be found!
There are many descriptions of swiss steak on the internet and few refer to the earliest recipes for swiss steak. The early recipes were made with a thin brown gravy that had home grown tomato, pepper and onion fortification in the sauce.
Yes, nearly every home in America had a garden, till recent years of brainwashing and corporate propaganda have led people to not tend their own backyard gardens. Nobody bought tomato products at stores, when they had their own backyard garden! Nobody bought genetically modified seeds either. Seeds were shared or passed on from private stock!
Swiss steak made the old fashioned way with fresh ingredients is truly a very nice entree! One of the secrets of making a good swiss steak is to not put importance on the acids of a tomato for helping to tenderize the meat. Many descriptions of swiss steak only mention tomato in the sauce. To a novice cook, reading a description like that would lead the cook to think that the proper sauce for swiss steak was a tomato sauce. That is wrong! In a good swiss steak recipe, only a tiny amount of tomato is added for flavor.
Vinegar is more important in a swiss steak sauce, for both flavor and tenderizing the meat. The old classic French poivrade sauce has a similar amount of cider vinegar. Tough pieces of beef tend to be stronger in flavor. A cube steak can taste fairly strong. Vinegar tames the flavor of strong tasting beef or wild game.
I decided to add a few pinches of pink peppercorn as a garnish for this swiss steak recipe. It adds a nice touch! Pink peppercorn has a natural smokey black pepper flavor that is perfect for swiss steak. I liked the result so much, that I did not list the pink peppercorn as an optional ingredient in this recipe.
The main flavors of a swiss steak recipe should be a rich old fashioned home made beef sauce, lightly caramelized onion, bell pepper and vinegar with a very small touch of tomato! That is the swiss steak sauce flavor that us kids used to wish that our moms made for the swiss steaks at our homes! As a kid, you only get invited to a friend's mom's house for a good swiss steak once in a blue moon. Moms know when they have been outdone, because when they announce that swiss steak is on for dinner, the reaction kids give is "Awe Mom! Ugg! Swiss steak again? Why? Why?" Ha Ha Ha!
A fine French wine with a good Swiss Steak? Why not!
I really like the unlisted French 2004 Cabezac Domaine Wine! 2005 Cabezac Domaine is available, but 2004 is very hard to come by. It was a great limited run of wine! I was truly impressed with the Cabezac wineries goals and standards. Cabezac was taken over by new French government approved owners during that year. The changes were very positive.
Domaine refers to a table wine in some definitions. Domaine according to French definition means a wine that was made only with grapes that were grown on the wineries estate! Domaine wines can be more than outstanding on a good year! The estate winery decides upon the blends of grapes for wines that will be made. If you know about Cabezac, then you will notice that from year to year, the same blend or the same wine is not often made twice! Variety is the spice of life!
The vin de pays designation on the label is required by the French government. This means a peasants wine or a country wine. France recognizes small regional village wines as being special. Some of the greatest wines that connoisseurs come across are from small local village wineries. Just because a wine does not have a chateau designation, it does not mean that the wine is not a great one! Vin de pays usually signifies that the wine is a local domaine wine or a step above a table wine in quality.
Vin de pays des cotes signifies that the wine was grown on a slope or hillside. Grapes grown on slopes have more character due to harsher growing conditions.
Vin de pays du val de cesse are made with grapes grown in a specific zone of the Aude administrative department. Languedoc-Roussillon is the region of vin de pays du val de cesse designated wines. Val de cesse marks the border of this high quality vineyard region.
The native grapes of the area and the grapes adapted from other regions can be referenced by a wine expert. Just by reading the vin de pays du val de cesse designation, a wine expert knows that Syrah grapes are grown in the region. Syrah is one of the best known fine wine making grapes.
For just a few words on a French wine label, there is plenty of wine background information presented! The more that you know, the better the wine experience will be!
Place 4 pounds of veal bones, lamb bones, beef bones, pork bones and meat scraps into a roasting pan.
Add 5 ounces of tomato paste.
Add a rustic un-peeled coarsely chopped mirepoix of:
- 1/2 cup of carrot
- 1/2 cup of celery
- 1 cup of onion.
Stir the mixture together.
Roast the mixture in a 350º oven, till the bones and vegetables caramelize to a deep brown color. (Stir the ingredients occasionally.)
Place the roasted bones and mirepoix into a stock pot.
Deglaze the roast pan with water and add the jus to the stock pot.
Cover the bones with water and bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
Reduce the temperature to low heat and simmer for 4 hours.
Add water occasionally to cover the bones.
Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a second pot. Discard the bones and vegetables.
Skim off the grease.
Place the pot over medium low heat.
Simmer and reduce the meat stock, till it is able to thinly coat and glaze the back of a spoon.
This is a very rich unseasoned glace viande that can be frozen in portions for later use.
When the glace viande is used in recipes, it will be reduced to a slightly thicker glaze consistency to order.
Swiss Steak with Pink Peppercorns Recipe:
Very lightly season an 8 to 10 ounce cube steak with sea salt and black pepper.
Dredge the cube steak in flour.
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.
Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Place the floured cube steak in the pan.
Saute the cube steak on both sides, till it becomes lightly browned and the coating is slightly crisp.
Remove the sauteed cube steak from the pan and set is aside on a dish.
Drain the grease out of the pan.
Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
Add 1 handful of small diced onion.
Saute till the onions turn clear in color.
Add 1 small handful of small diced red bell pepper.
Saute till the red bell peppers becomes tender and till the onions become lightly caramelized.
Add 2 tablespoon of finely minced peel and seeded Roma tomato.
Saute for 30 seconds.
Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
Add 2 ounces of dry sherry.
Add 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar.
Add 2 cups of rich beef stock.
Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
Add sea salt.
Add 1 small pinch of white pepper.
Add 1 small pinch of paprika.
Return the reserved sauteed cube steak to the sauce in the pan.
Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a very thin sauce consistency.
Add 2 ounces of the glace viande.
Continue to simmer and reduce the sauce, till is becomes a medium thin glace sauce consistency.
Use a spatula to place the swiss steak on a plate.
Place a potato and vegetable of your choice on the plate. (I served the swiss steak in the pictures with blanched julienne carrots that were simmered with seasoned unsalted butter. The purple Peruvian potatoes were par boiled and gently simmered with seasoned unsalted butter. This choice of vegetable and potato adds nice colors to the plate!)
Generously spoon the swiss steak sauce over the swiss steak.
Sprinkle 3 or 4 pinches of freshly crushed pink peppercorn over the swiss steak and sauce.
Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.
Viola! The best swiss steak that you never had! This is the great tasting swiss steak that some other kid's mom used to make! Ha Ha Ha!
The flavors of the sauce are rich, yet not overwhelming. The sherry and vinegar combine to create a delicate cheerful flavor in the sauce. The onions, red bell pepper and small amount of tomato create the classic swiss steak flavor. The pink peppercorns add a nice modern touch. Crack open a good bottle of French wine for this gourmet French comfort food version of an old classic economical home cooked meal! Yum! ... Shawna