Today started out mild but it is now rainy and dark. After meeting with a financial advisor this afternoon I know it is time to tighten the household belt. But I’m also due for a meat recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book so I’ve selected Miss Mary Hanna’s recipe for Swiss Beef Steak. This recipe calls for an inexpensive cut of beef — round steak.
I followed the directions provided by Miss Mary Hanna. I had a boneless outside round steak that was a little less than an inch thick and weighed 200 grams.
I put it on a cutting board and rubbed flour on it before pounding with my meat tenderizer. I rubbed a little more flour and pounded again. It didn’t look like it could take any more flour so I turned it over and did it again. I flipped the steak once more and was able to add a tiny bit more flour. I think I used just a couple of tablespoons of flour. Next I sprinkled salt and pepper on top of one side of the floured filled steak.
I put butter in a frying pan and added the steak seasoned side down when the butter was sizzling. I put more salt and pepper on the other side and then seared it too. I added boiling water, covered the frying pan with a lid and left it to simmer for two hours. Cooking this steak I realized how much I miss using cast iron frying pans and cooking on a wood fired cook stove. The sear from a cast iron pan is so much better than my non stick frying pan and a cook stove would have allowed me to “simmer on back of stove”.
Who is Miss Mary Hanna? There are no Hanna surnames in Waterloo North in the 1901 or 1911 census. There is an 21-year-old Isaac in Waterloo South in 1911 and a family(James and Margaret A.) in 1901 but their only unmarried daughter is 14-year-old Beatrice I. The Waterloo Region Generations website has one Mary Jane Hanna but she was already married by 1874. I had assumed the surname Hanna would be somewhat unusual but there are 31 women and girls named Mary Hanna in Ontario in 1901! Several of them are in the nearby county of Wellington so it is just too difficult to determine the identity right now of Miss Mary Hanna.
I like slow cooked beef better than any other way of preparing meat. Give me a pot roast or simmered steak any day over a grilled sirloin or chop. Usually when I cook round steak I sear it, add some water and onions and let it simmer for at least an hour and turn it into a sort of stroganoff with sour cream and noodles. However, this is my new favourite way. Miss Hanna’s method for Swiss Beef Steak was incredibly good. Who knew pounding flour into meat, adding salt and pepper, and of course the all important butter would result in such a tender mouth-watering meat? I certainly didn’t expect it.
SWISS BEEF STEAK
Miss Mary Hanna
1 round steak, cut 1 inch thick, pound flour into it as much as it will absorb, season with salt and pepper; put 1 lump butter into a skillet which is hot; sear steak on both sides, then fill skillet with boiling water, cover and let simmer on back of stove for two hours.