The term cube steak refers to a cut of meat that has been run through a mechanical tenderizer, called a meat cuber or swissing machine. The resulting steak is called a cube steak, or swiss steak, because of the cube-shaped indentations made by the tenderizer.
You can also turn a less tender cut of beef, or sometimes pork, into cube steak at home by pounding the meat with a tenderizing mallet to produce the cube-shaped indentations.
Traditionally, cube steak is taken from the beef round primal cut, which is quite tough, or from the shoulder center, which comes from the beef chuck. But it can be made using any tough cut of beef.
Because cube steak doesn't include a whole lot of fat or marbling—it's a lean cut—your steak won't contain a lot of fat by itself. Generally, count on 21 grams of fat in a 6-ounce serving if you grill your cube steak. Without the marbling, you won't get much taste from your steak, so it's not unusual to use it in such dishes as chicken fried steak, stews, and with recipes that include gravy. If you're counting calories, however, be warned that the preparation is often where the calories creep up in number.
The whole point of cube steak is to tenderize a tough piece of meat. Therefore, you would not want to make cube steak from a higher quality and more expensive steak such as tenderloin or rib-eye steak.
Cube steak can be braised, pan-fried, or sautéed. It can even be baked in a casserole or cooked up long and slow in a slow cooker. Examples of cube steak recipes include Swiss steak, chicken-fried steak, cheese steaks, Beijing beef and other.quick-cooked Chinese beef recipes.
You don't want your cube steak to dry out, so count on putting it in gravy dishes, casseroles and the like. Use your imagination, but for the most part, you want to cook your cube steak either very quickly or combined with other ingredients, such as onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes, and simmered slowly.
Buying Cube Steak
You can find cube steak at the meat counter of your favorite grocery or purchase it at the butcher. You can also buy several packaged and frozen; you can just pull out your cube steaks as you need them. While in some parts of the country and in Canada, cube steaks are also called minute steaks, they really are two different items. Minute steaks are most often top sirloin sliced thin. Minute steaks also lack the defining indentations of cube steak.
You can also find cube steaks already breaded, a time-saver if you plan to cook chicken-fried steak, for example. Because cube steak is made from tougher cuts of meat, it's a far less expensive purchase than similar-sized but much more tender cuts of beef.