When out to save a buck, beef round steak makes the cut

Growing up, one of my favorite meals was my mother’s Swiss steak. It was so tender I could cut it with my fork and the flavorful pan gravy, with a hint of tomato, was perfect over her fluffy mashed potatoes. My mom could do wonders with lower-priced, tougher cuts of meat, making meals that made everyone happy. Round steak was one of those cuts.

Because round steak comes from the rear of the beef where the muscles are well exercised, they are lean and very tough. But with a little pounding with the meat mallet and a quick sear to hold in the juices or a long braise in liquid, the results can be outstanding.

I like to cut round steak into strips, sear in hot olive oil and garlic then slow-simmer in spaghetti sauce and serve over rigatoni. The steak is fork-tender and gives the sauce a richness that ground beef just can’t provide.

Here are a few more delicious ideas for serving beef round steak (or venison steak if you’ve got hunters.) Your bound to find a favorite.

Mushroom and Onion Swiss Steak

1 1/2 pounds boneless round steak, 3/4 to 1-inch thick

1 T. olive oil

2 T. butter

8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup flour

1 cup beef broth

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, if desired

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and butter. SautÈ the onion and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. With slotted spoon remove from skillet and set aside, reserving oil and butter.

Cut round steak into serving pieces. Pound the flour into the steak pieces and transfer to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown the steak thoroughly on both sides. When browned add the beef broth, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, marjoram, onions and mushrooms. Cover skillet and simmer over medium-low heat about 45 minutes, or until meat is very tender. Check occasionally for dryness and add a little water to pan if needed. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Serve steak with pan drippings over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Tip: For a richer, thicker gravy remove meat from skillet and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream. Return steak to skillet and heat to serving temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

3 potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 onion, coarsely chopped

6 carrots, peeled and sliced in 1-inch pieces

2 pounds boneless round steak

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup

3/4 cup beef broth or water

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place the potatoes, onion and carrots in bottom of slow cooker. Cut steak into six pieces. Place the beef on top of vegetables.

In mixing bowl combine the onion soup mix, soup and beef broth. Pour over beef. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 10 hours. Check for seasoning and add if necessary. Serves 6.

Mexican Carne Guisada

(Braised beef for tacos)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds round steak

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. flour

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. coarse black pepper

2 tsps. cumin

Garnishes: pico de gallo, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Directions: Trim round steak and cut into bite-size cubes. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add steak cubes, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook till meat is browned and the onion is tender. Add the flour, stirring to blend with the pan juices. Stir in tomato sauce, salt, pepper and cumin. Cover skillet and simmer 45 minutes. Serve in warmed flour or corn tortillas with garnishes of choice. Serves 8 to 10.