Swiss Steak
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First off, before we picture Heidi and alpine meadows, Swiss Steak is not named for the country of Switzerland directly, or even for how they prepare steaks in the Alps.  Swiss Steaks, usually beef, take their name from a technique, “swissing,” used to soften fabric by running it back and forth through rollers. So, Swiss Steak refers to cuts of meat that have been “Swissed” meaning mechanically (with an electric tenderizer) or physically (with a mallet) tenderized.

Availability

Swiss Steak is available all year long. 

Production

The production of beef is carried about by three primary types of operations: Cow & Calf Operations, Weaner Calf & Yearling Operations, and Dry-Lot Feeding Operations (also known as “Backrounders”) which are the most expensive operations in the Beef Industry. To learn more about Beef Producers just follow the link to Smart Kitchen’s Page on Beef Producers. The Beef Producers are represented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

American cattle production has remained almost stagnant between 1985 and 2009, growing just 6.4%, while the amount of beef imported has nearly tripled in that time, according to an analysis of USDA figures conducted by R-CALF USA, another the trade group that represents cattle producers.

Once raised, Beef is typically sold to Meat Packers who slaughter, inspect, and butcher the animals to provide Primal Cuts to butchers and portion cuts to consumers.

The Meat Packing Industry is in a period of consolidation. In 1999, the 10 largest beef-packing firms accounted for more than 90 percent of all Steer and Heifer slaughter in the U.S. In 2011, according to the Western Organization of Resources Councils three major companies controlled Beef market. Visit Smart Kitchen’s Meat Packers Resource Page to learn more.

Varieties

It can also refer to cuts of meat which are candidates for “Swissing.” Swiss Steaks, also known as Beef Braising Steak, can be made from any combination of lean beef from the Loin, the Rib or the Chuck that is suitably tender after only a single pass through a tenderizer.

The end result is very similar to a Cube Steak which is a term that is almost interchangeable for Swiss Steak. The main differences that some would argue over would be where on the steer the tough cut of meat came from and the method of tenderizing. Cube steaks tend to come from the Bottom Sirloin or the Round and are typically mechanically tenderized by an electric tenderizer. Primary candidates for Swissing are Chuck Arm Steaks and Round Steaks.

Purchasing

When shopping for Swiss Steak, look for Swiss Steak that has a clear, red exterior color known as the “Bloom,” that come from exposure to oxygen and not the more normal purplish-red color of vacuum packed beef. Your purchase should be cold, firm to the touch and, if packaged, free of any punctures or rips. Notice the “sell-by” date on the label and make sure you are buying product that is well within its dates of safe use as specified by the sticker.

Storage

Raw Swiss Steak should last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Add an extra day of cold storage time if the Swiss Steak is Marinated or oiled. Raw Swiss Steak will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer without any appreciable deterioration in quality.

Cooked Swiss Steak should be refrigerated for up to 1-3 days.

Culinary Uses

Swiss Steak is a tough Portion Cut of Beef. On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate it should be Cooked, it is Tough, it can be Thin or Thick depending on how it is cut, it is Dry, and Lean. Using the Home Plate we would call it Cooked, Tough, Thin or Thick, Dry, and Lean or noted in the home plate shorthand Swiss Steak would be (C, T1T3-T4, D, L).

Swiss Steak is best cooked using the following techniques: GrillingBaking, BroilingFire RoastingRoastingSautéingPan FryingSimmeringBoilingBraising, Smoking and Stewing.

Portion Size

Allow 6 to 9 ounces (170 g to 255 g) per person of Swiss Steak as a Serving Size.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

No

Low Calorie

No