Look! I made you dinner.
Last night I went to Pinterest in search of a brilliant why-didn’t-I-think-of-that solution to folding fitted sheets. There was none, and I realized that I didn’t really want to know how to tuck the one corner up into the other one and awkwardly fold the edges down until it resembled a foldable rectangle…
I wanted someone to tell me it was OK to wad them up and toss them in the corner.
I have avoided fitted sheet folding by washing and replacing them rather than putting one set away… my Mom, who actually irons her sheets, would be horrified. (But oh, it is really nice.) I decided the laundry piles had grown too high, and there had been far too many frozen pizzas in our recent past. Too much eating out, and nibbling on carrots and cheese, and waffles (homemade, but still) for dinner, and not enough proper meals. And so I did some laundry, and folded the fitted sheets nice and proper, and picked up the ingredients to make Swiss steak – Mike’s favourite childhood dinner, which I’ve made maybe once since we started going around in 1988.
(The closest thing to Swiss steak at my house, my Dad’s beef stew was my least favourite dinner. Flank steak simmered in stewed tomatoes to the consistency of wet rope.)
Mike was duly impressed when he walked in the door at 5 o’clock, turned on the news, and got a plate of Swiss steak for dinner. I nagged W to finish his, and B had soccer practice, and now I’m folding more laundry (rather than tossing it onto the laundry chair – that’s why people have furniture in their bedrooms, right?) and overseeing homework. I may actually be a grown-up after all.
Swiss steak is made using tougher cuts of meat, like eye of round or bottom round – I always think of steak as something grillable, but if it’s a slab of a cut that you’d otherwise simmer pot-roast-style, I’d consider it a simmering steak. I cut 4 eye of round steaks into thick strips and doused them in salt and peppered flour, ignoring instructions to pound them thin. (I had 6 minutes to do this before picking the boys up from school.) I browned them quickly, then set them aside and started to brown the onions, garlic and celery. They were just starting to wilt when I ran out of time, dumped the meat back into the pot, added a shake of steak spice I picked up to rim Caesar glasses this Stampede, added tomatoes and stock, covered it and slid it into the oven for 2 hours. It would have been a perfect fall meal had it not been 27 degrees outside.
I generally don’t flour meat before browning it – the problem being you then brown the flour, not the meat – but it does add body to the resulting sauce.
Swiss steaks must be served over smashed potatoes or buttered noodles, to catch the drips. Some days, it’s all about the drips.
2 lb eye of round or bottom round or flank steaks
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 onion, thinly sliced
2-4 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
2 celery stalks, chopped (leaves too)
1 14 oz (398 mL) can whole or diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock or red wine
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
a good shake of steak spice (or pinch of oregano)
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Cut the steaks across the grain into thick strips – about 1 1/2 inches wide. Put the flour into a shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy pot on the stovetop with a generous drizzle of oil and brown the meat in batches on all sides, then transfer it to a plate.
Add the onions, garlic and celery to the pot and cook for a few minutes, until starting to turn golden. Return the steak to the pot, add the tomatoes, stock, Worcestershire and steak spice (or whatever herbs and spices you like), cover and slide into the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Serve over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Serves 6-8.