Baked Steak

“This is called a sauce.” Well, thanks for making that clear.

Compare with the baked steak recipe from 1914’s From The Neighborhood Cook Book by The Council Of Jewish Women:

Baked Steak

Season meat with salt and pepper, chop two large onions, and three bell peppers very fine, and scatter over steak. Slice a lemon very thin and put over pepper, then pour over one and one-half cups of tomato catsup. Roast in oven twenty or thirty minutes. After meat is in oven, baste continually and after ten minutes add one cup soup stock.

Hmm. Y’know, if you swapped the sirloin on this card for a piece of cube steak, you’d have the recipe for Swiss steak–for example, this version, from the April 14, 1939 edition of The Hammond (Indiana) Times:

Likes Swiss Steak

Nelson Eddy likes Swiss Steak. The movie men certainly do like their beef. The singer’s recipe calls for two pounds of round steak (must be one and one-half inches thick), one-half cup flour, salt, pepper, paprika, one sliced onion, one tablespoon fat, one cup boiling water, two tablespoons tomato ketchup and one teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Place steak on heavy board. With the rim of a very thick saucer pound flour into it. Turn meat often so that all of flour may be incorporated. Season well with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown onion in a hot frying pan. Add meat and cook for 10 minutes, turning often. When browned, pour in boiling water. Cover pan and allow to simmer until tender (about two and one-half hours). Add ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to the gravy and serve. Serves six.

You remember Nelson Eddy, right? Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’d recognize his distinctive and often parodied voice.

From 1935’s Naughty Marietta with longtime partner Jeanette MacDonald. Skip ahead to 2:27 to get to Eddy.

Before you go pounding your round with a saucer (which somehow sounds less innocent than it should), consider this earlier iteration from the October 3, 1914 edition of The Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun:


Swiss Steak–Take round steak and cut in pieces, pound thoroughly, dredge in flour and fry until each side is brown and then put spider containing meat on back of stove and allow to simmer for two or three hours. Add a bit of water occasionally, just enough to keep the meat simmering. Cover tightly.

I’m not so sure it means pieces, as such–it might just mean to separate out the muscles of the round, which we learned about in the post for round steak superb from Kent, Ohio. (By the way, 1914 is about two decades earlier than some sources identify is the earliest mentions of swiss steak, but hey, who’s counting.)

So what makes these Swiss? Nothing, if you mean the nationality. As far as anyone can figure out, it was that the tough round steaks were being passed through rollers to turn them into cube steaks, much as the fabric is passed through rollers in when adding a finish to a cotton or silk fabric.

From 1905’s The Chemistry and Practice of Finishing, page 322

1895 meat tenderizer patent, from Google Patents


So what separates a baked steak from a swiss steak, then, is that a swiss steak starts with a tough piece of round that gets tender from violence and time braising, while a baked steak starts with a lean, but not necessarily tough, piece of meat like a sirloin or a flank steak. Except when it’s a flank steak, we’d probably call it London broil.

So London broil isn’t from London and Swiss steak is not only not Swiss but is an improperly conjugated verb. Thanks, language!

We talked about instant meat tenderizer and the enzymes that make it in the post for hot corned beef sandwiches from Kent, Ohio.

From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Baked Steak

1 slice of top sirloin about 2 to 2-1/2″ thick
Instant meat tenderizer
1/2 lb. fresh, sliced mushrooms
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 large onions, sliced with rings broken
1 large pepper, sliced in rings
3/4 cup strong coffee, or red wine
1-1/3 cups ketchup (Too much ketchup!)

First, brown each side of meat under broiler. Then melt butter, add mushrooms (keep temp. low), sauté for a few minutes then add sliced onions, sliced pepper and perhaps more butter. Sauté until limp.

Add to this the coffee and ketchup. Mix and pour over top of meat. This is called a sauce.

Place in 350 deg. oven and bake. For rare, this is only 15 to 20 minutes.

Slice using an English (slanted) cut.

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