One of my fondest childhood memories of wonderful winter aromas straying from the kitchen was smothered round steak. Then, it seemed that no matter how chilled I was from having been outside, the scent of simmering smothered round steak cuddled me in a blanket of warmth. It not only comforted me, it brought forth an appetite so intense if dinner weren’t ready right then, I’d sank into a state of deep depression and acute starvation.
My grandmother was a great Old Deep South cook. She passed down recipes with ingredients measured in pinches and dabs. Whenever she stooped to use measurements (usually to make yeast rolls that rose dangerously high and filled the whole house with an aroma that rendered everybody faint from hunger), a cupful consisted of a teacup; a spoonful was measured in a spoon used for stirring coffee. Her cooking eye saw no need for concise measurements. Yet, every 3-layered jelly cake (made with her own signature jelly), every pot of puffy chicken and dumplings (chickens she raised, dumplings made from scratch), every baseball-size biscuit (also made from scratch) came out always perfect and tasting great.
My grandmother taught my mother her method of cooking. My mother used the same method to teach me. The measurements set forth in the following Easy Deep South Smothered Steak recipe are approximates. So, as with anything else, use your own judgment and good taste.
Easy Deep South Smothered Steak
2 (approximately) pounds round steak
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons cooking oil
3-4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
1 quart of water, approximately
Cut steak into pieces, approximately 2 inches square (include piece with bone). Season meat with salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika. Dredge in flour and brown on both sides. Don’t worry if browned flour sticks to skillet or pot. Remove meat or push aside, add vegetables, and cook until wilted. Add any remaining flour left over from dredging. Cook and stir until flour is brown. Add approximately 1 quart of water stir; return meat to mixture, if removed. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for approximately one hour or until steak is very tender. If gravy becomes too thick, add more water. Discard bone; serve smothered steak over rice or mashed potatoes.
Good any time, but especially memorable on a chilly day.