Kachemak Cuisine: Swiss steak is the perfect meal for mellow March days

Swiss steak makes a great dish on dreary March days, as seen here on March 5, 2019, in the kitchen of Teri Robl in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Swiss steak makes a great dish on dreary March days, as seen here on March 5, 2019, in the kitchen of Teri Robl in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Teri Robl)

It’s the first Sunday in March as I write this and the morning sky is a flat gray. It’s so quiet, like Alaska is still sleeping at 8 a.m. and the temperature hovering right around freezing — such typical March weather.

The Other Fisherman rode out to the lake on his snowmachine to do some cabin chores, leaving me home along with the old black lab.

We like our solitary times together. All I can hear is his quiet snoring and the gentle humming of the Toyo stove running. We haven’t made a fire in the wood stove for a few days because the spring daylight gives off plenty of solar heat when the sun is out in earnest and the house temperature rises to record breaking highs during the day. I throw in some wash; the steady whirl of the machine compliments the hum of the Toyo and Boomer’s sleeping — the sounds of Sunday, comforting and familiar.

I grab my coffee and settle in with a favorite cookbook that has been in my library as long as I have been in Homer. It feels like visiting with an old friend.

The 47th Iditarod Official re-start took place this morning in Willow. I watch a little on the television hearing the barking huskies, excited mushers and banter of the reporters. Spectators are excited and enjoy watching the start of this last great race to Nome. I wonder how local communities along the trail prepare for the mushers and their entourage of Iditarod volunteers? I can only imagine the hustle and bustle at their places as they await the arrival of the first dog teams and mushers. What do they cook for them?

There are many things special and unique about this life up here in the great land that you have to experience to understand. I’ve been here over 40 years now and Alaska, her history and traditions run deep within me. I still marvel at the thought of how we came to call this beautiful and special place home. The sights, sounds and tastes of Alaska in March hang heavy within me today.

My mom often made Swiss steak with beef round steak, tomatoes, onions and green peppers when I was a child. It’s a perfect family dinner, easy to make and can be cooked either on the stove top or in the oven. Serve it with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes and a green salad. I’ve found another version of Swiss steak that’s prepared with a mushroom and onion gravy.

By the way, it’s called Swiss steak as it’s prepared by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes or mushroom sauce either on the stove top or in the oven — not a thing to do with Switzerland.

Swiss Steak with Mushroom, Onion and Leek Gravy

Ingredients:

1 ½ – 2 pounds moose round steaks or beef

½ teaspoon seasoned salt such as Johnny’s

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

4 tablespoons olive oil and 4 tablespoon butter

(use 2 tablespoons each oil and butter for sautéing vegetables and the other half for browning the meat)

1 1/2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms

1 medium size onion, sliced and separated into rings

2 leeks – white ends only cut into rings (save remaining green portion for soup stock)

¼ cup brandy

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 cups beef broth

Directions:

With a meat mallet, pound the steaks to ½ inch thickness.

Cut into serving size pieces. Sprinkle each side of meat lightly with salt, garlic powder and pepper.

Mix flour, smoked paprika and parsley flakes together in a pie plate.

Dredge the meat through the flour mixture shaking off any excess. Set meat aside.

In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons each olive oil and butter.

Sauté the sliced mushrooms, onions and leeks for about 5 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Move veggie mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Add additional olive oil and butter to the skillet and brown round steak thoroughly on each side.

Once the meat is browned, add the brandy, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, mushrooms, onions, and leek. Cover skillet with lid and simmer on low heat for about 1- 1 ½ hours, or until meat is very tender. Check pan occasionally for drying out, and add a little more beef broth if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Swiss Steak with Tomato and Onion Gravy

Ingredients:

1 ½ – 2 pounds moose round steaks or beef

½ teaspoon seasoned salt such as Johnny’s

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

½ cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

4 tablespoons olive oil and 4 tablespoon butter

(use 2 tablespoons each oil and butter for sautéing vegetables and the other half for browning the meat)

1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a shallow baking dish.

Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook beef in hot oil and butter until browned completely, 3 to 5 minutes per side; transfer to prepared baking dish reserving drippings in the skillet.

To the drippings, add tomatoes, onion, green bell pepper, beef broth, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon flour, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the tomato mixture to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the meat in the baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil.

Bake until beef is completely tender, about 90 minutes.

An Insta pot works great for both recipes. The meat will be melt-in-your-mouth tender. Just add all ingredients after sautéing and browning. Cook on meat setting.

Enjoy the Iditarod, the added daylight and March in our great state of Alaska.

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