A hearty, tasty dinner, as well as a basis for similar dishes
What is usually called Swiss Steak isn't Swiss, but closer to Italian or Cajun. Use serving-size pieces of round steak or other beef that is not tender. The meat will become tender in cooking. Using things like sirloin steak or tenderloin not only is a waste of money, but the meat will be ruined. Dust the meat with flour, and brown in butter or olive oil in a frying pan with a lid available.
Add chopped yellow onions, sweet green pepper, some chopped garlic and a few bay leaves, and fry until the onion is transparent and yellow, and the green pepper well cooked. Then add canned tomatoes, and mash the tomatoes in the pan. Season with salt and Louisiana hot sauce (such as Frank's) to taste. Add a little water if the meat is not covered. Cover, turn down the heat and simmer, just bubbling slightly, for an hour and a half or more, depending on the meat used. The dish is done when the meat is tender. A drained can of prepared okra can be added for more interest, or filé (add just before serving) for a real Louisiana accent. If the gravy is not thick enough (filé will thicken it), mix some flour with water and pour it in, stirring constantly, and cook for a while. Remove the bay leaves.
Meanwhile, prepare mashed potatoes and the vegetable. The liquid from the meat makes an excellent gravy.
Shrimp or crayfish can be substituted for the beef. In this case, cook the sauce for ten minutes or so, then add the seafood, and, of course, do not cook any longer than is necessary to cook or heat up the seafood. Frozen cooked shrimp can be used. This should be served over rice, instead of with mashed potatoes, and can be ready in a rather short time, making a one-dish meal, especially with okra. Chicken can also substitute for the beef; flour and brown it, but it will not need long braising.
Another Method of Preparation: flour the beef and brown it on all sides in oil. Place in a casserole. Saute the chopped onion and green pepper with a couple of bay leaves and some garlic until the onion is transparent, and add to the beef. Pour a can of diced peeled tomatoes into the casserole, add about a tablespoon of Frank's Hot Sauce or equivalent, and mix lightly. Cover and place in a 300°F oven for about four hours until done.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 25 March 2001
Last revised 8 October 2002