Smothered steak is another winter comfort meal. The cube or minute steaks are coated in seasoned flour, browned in oil and baked in gravy until fork tender. The steaks can be served with mashed or boiled potatoes or with buttered noodles. It is an easy meal to prepare and leftovers are easily reheated the following day or frozen.
Cube or minute steaks are tougher cuts of beef and beef scraps that have been run through a tenderizing process that cuts through the tough connective fibers. Cube refers to the tenderizing process, not to a cut of beef. The tenderizing machines produce a square or cube pattern on the meat. According to an advertisement for a cubing machine the result of the process is a piece of beef that is improved in flavor, has a larger surface area and takes less time to cook.
Cube steak was first mentioned in print during the 1920s. Butchers often combined beef scrapes during the process which pounded or ‘knitted’ the pieces together into one piece of meat. Some butchers added extra fat during the tenderizing. Today cube steaks are usually made from tougher pieces of chuck or round cuts.
Cube or minute steaks became popular during the Great Depression. Many of the best known recipes using cube steak are from that time period. Cube steaks are used in many iconic recipes such as chicken fried steak, smothered steak, Swiss steak and many types of steak sandwiches. Some cooks fry and serve the steaks with eggs for breakfast instead of bacon. A regular menu item seen at truck stops across the United States is a chicken fried steak with eggs, hash browns and toast.
The recipe will make 4 servings. Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes, the gravy the steak was cooked in and a vegetable such as buttered carrots.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 4 cube or minute steaks
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of onion salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to take the chill off. Put the cooking oil into a large deep oven proof pan over medium high heat.
Using a fork mix the flour, onion salt, garlic salt, poultry seasoning, paprika, dry mustard and black pepper together in a shallow dish. Pat or pound the seasoned flour into both sides of each steak.
Cook the steaks in the hot oil. Cook only two at a time. Brown well on each side but do not completely cook, the steaks will finish cooking in the oven. Set the steaks aside on a plate while you make the gravy.
Turn the oven on and heat to 350 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the stove and use as much of the seasoned flour as will absorb the oil and fat left in the pan. I usually add it all. Using a wire whisk blend the seasoned flour into the fat in the pan to form a roux. Make sure to scrap up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Put the pan back on the stove and stir and cook a couple of minutes over medium high heat. Slowly whisk in the water, chicken bouillon
and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir until smooth and cook a few more minutes. It will be thin and will finish thickening in the oven. Turn off the heat.
Put the browned steaks into the pan of gravy one at a time. Turn each steak so both sides are coated with the gravy. Cover the pan with the lid or with foil and bake the steaks and gravy in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit about 10 minutes before serving.
Thinly sliced onion can be cooked in the oil and then removed before browning the steaks. Add the onion back before baking.
The seasonings used in the flour can be almost anything you like. The most used or traditional seasoning is simply salt, black pepper and sage or poultry seasoning.
If you dip the steaks in flour, then in egg beaten with milk and back in flour it is a chicken fried steak. Smothered steak doesn’t use egg or milk.