Cube steak (often called Minute Steak in Canada) has a downmarket reputation. You know them, all laid out in a “Family Size”‘ plastic tray in the meat department, all crinkly from their run though a meat tenderizer in the butcher’s back room . When they go on sale, I buy them. Lookee, mes amis, it’s not as if I can spring for a strip steak, and I just plain like them. My foodie cred may be in tatters, especially after writing about my love affair with Jiffy Cornbread Mix, but let me count the ways.
A cube steak is skinny, and forget about cooking it rare. In fact I doubt that it would taste great rare. And that crenelation: pure brill — you get the pure deep beefy taste and it’s not tough. In fact, after you’ve browned it for one minute a side, think about a shortish braise — some red wine,some onions, some mushrooms, some cream, some diced tomatoes, some chicken stock and soy sauce.
I like to think about is my mother’s culinary life pre JC: Julia Child. She’d sautee some cube steaks and add a package of Lipton’s dried Onion Soup Mix. We were mad for it. A cube steak makes a damn good Chicken Fried Steak. If you press lots of pepper into its rippled surface, it’s a great steak sandwich. It tastes good. And it’s cooked in a minute, unless you want to braise it. I have a sturdy working-class affection for the cube steak.