Swiss Steak

swiss steak
photo credit: cattlemen's beef council

Swiss Steak History

According to the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink; the term swissing does not come from Switzerland but is in fact an English term. Swissing is a method of smoothing out cloth between a set of rollers. Swiss steak is normally pounded flat before cooking. The recipe first appeared in print in 1915.

In England, this dish is referred to as "smothered steak".

The Dish

This is normally considered an "economy" meal. Typically the beef cut is beef rump or round. Because this is a tougher cut the meat is pounded to tenderize. It is cooked in the oven with onions, bell peppers, and seasonings such as rosemary or thyme. Some recipes included canned tomatoes.

Basic Swiss Steak Recipe

  • 1 round steak, 2 pounds
  • Seasoned flour (with salt & pepper)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper (capsicum)
  • 1 16 ounce canned tomatoes (if whole, chop up)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Sprinkle the meat with the seasoned flour and pound it in using a meat mallet or the edge of a sturdy plate. Sear the meat in a heated, heavy frying pan making sure to brown well on both sides. Place the meat in a casserole. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes and the herbs. Cook until the tomatoes are well broken down. There should be sufficient juice to deglaze the pan. Place the cooked vegetables over the meat in the casserole. Cover and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Browning Meat In Flour

Do you ever wonder why a recipe calls for coating meat in flour then browning in oil? 

It is done to provide depth to the flavor of the dish.  As the flour cooks little brown bits adhere to the surface of the pan.  These bits are a combination of the flour, meat juices and the oil.  Once you add liquid to the pan, those bits dissolve and add a rich meaty taste to the dish.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.