I cook them a variety of ways ranging from ‘chicken frying’ with milk gravy to simply seasoning them and throwing them on the BBQ grill for a few minutes. Cooking them for a few minutes is the key, no matter how you prepare them. In fact, if you cook them too long, they will become too tough to eat. Sometimes I prepare them in the crock pot, but even that is a recipe that doesn’t take as long as a typical beef recipe. You don’t have to simmer or slow cook cubed steak.
My husband and I grew up eating minute steaks, both pork and beef. Today’s recipe uses beef, and the story that goes along with it might be more important than the recipe. Let’s look at the history of these tender steaks first.
People have tenderized meat by pounding it and making tiny crisscross cuts in it for centuries. The process of cubing meat simply means cutting little cube shapes in the meat. The first patent for a cubing machine dates to 1926. Just look at this machine. It is called the Wonder Chef Cube Steak Machine. You put the meat on the round turn table and each time your turn the crank, it cuts the meat with 19 blades. Then you lift the crank, turn the meat and crank it again. I think I’ll just buy mine at the supermarket!
A 1936 advertisement for the machine itself offers a recipe book to show home cooks how to prepare the meat. In the 1950s, my favorite vintage period, the Los Angeles Times featured recipes for the little tender steaks. In the 1960s and 70s, the steaks were still a popular buy, but consumers were warned to make sure they were getting a decent cut of meat to start with. Watch out for extra fat or gristle.
Cubed steaks are typically much cheaper than steak. When economic times turn downward, cube steak sales go up! In 2008, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the amount of cute steak sold in thee last quarter went up 10% compared to the previous year. The amount of beef sold, overall, during that period only went up 3%. It was a sign of the times, and I’d bet that when 2020 beef sales are reviewed, we might see the same thing.
What you are about to read now in this post is actually a blog post from a few years ago. Enjoy!
Not many people name menu items after their dogs! We do! When I married my husband, I also married his dog. Sultan was a beautiful long hair German Shepherd that had been with him several years when I came along, and he stayed with us for several more. He ate canned dog food that looked just like beef stew complete with the peas and carrots and potatoes. Sultan wouldn't eat the peas and he actual mastered spitting them out the side of his mouth while he chewed the other ingredients! He was a dandy! So, for 30 years after he had passed on ... anything that even resembled Sultan's expensive dog food ... was named after Sultan! Sometimes my husband would even leave a few peas in his plate for a chuckle.
This picture is not our Sultan, but he could be his child! He was big, furry and warm. He was middle aged when he learned to play Barbies without eating their heads or nibbling on their feet. He gladly wore earrings and beaded necklaces from our grandma collection. It was not uncommon for my husband to come home from work and find his prized pet in a man's shirt or a little girl's dress. Children loved him and he loved them back!
I'm happy to share the recipe for this quick meal. With meat prices the way they are, we are all looking for ways to prepare the less expensive cuts of meat, especially beef. We grew up on minute steaks and raised our daughter on minute steaks! They are delicious and take on whatever flavor you add to them. They can be pan-fried, roasted or grilled. We love them smothered in brown gravy. That is real comfort food! But we also love them on the grill.
Sultan's Minute Steaks
Put the minute steaks back into the gravy; add the peas and carrots; put a lid on the skillet and place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 Degrees. You'll be able to cut the steaks with a fork. Serve with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes!
This is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project. If you’d like to see similar articles, just click the menu tab. I’ll also be sharing with a couple blog parties so make sure you visit my list on my sidebar.