A quick sear and a flavorful tomato braise transform cheap cuts of beef (like beef bottom round) into a tender and comforting dinner. Cube steak is a bit of a misnomer, if you ask me, seeing as how there isn't really anything cubist about it. But I guess it sounds better than "perforated meat," which is what cube steak actually is. Why would you perforate a perfectly good piece of meat? To convert a flavorful but tough hunk of meat into something that is flavorful and potentially tender, or at least, tenderer. This recipe first appeared in Season 10 of Good Eats.
ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon drippings
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
Heat oven to 325ºF.
Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices and season on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour in a pie pan. Dredge the pieces of meat on both sides in the flour mixture. Tenderize the meat using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Dredge the slices on both sides once more and set aside.
Add enough of the bacon drippings or vegetable oil to just cover the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a plate and repeat until all of the steaks have been browned.
Remove the last steaks from the pot and add the onions, garlic, and celery. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Next add the tomatoes, paprika, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth, and stir to combine. Return the meat to the pot, submerging it in the liquid. Cover the pot and place it in the oven on the middle rack. Cook until the meat is tender and falling apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.