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A&E >  Food

Dorothy Dean presents: Swiss steak is a comforting and hearty meal

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 13, 2020

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

Before making swiss steak, I hadn’t a clue what it was.

During a phone call with my mom, she brought up a dish that consisted of beef that was braised in a tomato gravy with onions. The way she nostalgically raved about its rich sauce and tender meat, I was intrigued and knew I had to give it a try.

With “swiss” in the name, I assumed that the dish had originated in Switzerland. However, that is not the case. It instead refers to the technique of rolling or pounding a tougher cut of steak to tenderize it, known as “swissing.”

Originating in the 1930s, the dish was made popular in the ’40s when Reynolds Wrap Aluminum advertised it to promote its foil, which was used to line a pan, making cleanup a breeze.

Swiss steak is typically made with a tomato-based sauce, though some versions are in a creamy mushroom gravy.

It uses boneless, inexpensive cuts of beef like top or bottom round steak, chuck steak or even cube steak.

Onions and bell peppers are most commonly added, and carrots, celery and potatoes are sometimes used, too.

This version (made with a tomato base seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika and oregano), calls for onions, bell peppers, carrots and celery. It also skips the oven, instead simmering to tenderness in a slow cooker.

Served over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles, it’s a comforting and hearty meal. And with the slow cooker doing all the work, it’s perfect for those busy weeknights.

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

Adapted from

¾ cup flour

2½ to 3 pounds beef bottom round (cut into serving-size pieces and pounded thin to tenderize)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup oil

½ large onion, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1½ cups beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Add the flour into a shallow bowl. Season tenderize pieces of beef with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the beef and let it brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Coat a slow cooker with nonstick spray and add in the onions, celery, carrots and bell peppers. Place the browned meat on top of the veggies.

In a large measuring cup or bowl, add the beef broth, tomato paste, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, paprika, oregano and Worcestershire sauce, and whisk to combine.

Pour the mixture over the beef and veggies in the slow cooker, and cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat is tender.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes or pasta.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at

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