A topside of beef is also referred to as "round steak" in Australia, where it's commonly used for fishing bait. In the United States, topside is retailed in supermarkets as "cube steak," and tends to be a little tough with a chewy texture. But if you cook it properly, it won't be. The secret is to not get in a hurry, keep the heat at medium-low or less, brown the topside in bacon grease, and then simmer the cooked beef in gravy to tenderise it. This method of preparing topside guarantees that it will cut with a fork and melt in your mouth. Serve it up to a family of four with hot, crusty bread, mashed potatoes and baby green peas with pearl onions.
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Things you need
- Topside beef steaks ½ inch thick or less, about 0.907 Kilogram
- Bacon grease
- Cream of mushroom soup, 10-¾ ounce can
- Ground black pepper
Cut the topside beef into smaller pieces, about 3 to 4 inches square. Dredge them in flour, coating them heavily.
Melt enough bacon grease in a large, iron skillet to just cover the bottom, about 1/8 inch deep, over medium-low heat.
Place the floured pieces of topside in the skillet. Keep the heat set at medium-low and brown both sides of the meat. Drain both sides well on fresh paper towels to remove as much grease as possible from them.
Turn the heat down to low and give the grease about 3 to 5 minutes to cool down a little. Slowly and carefully pour about ½ cup of milk into the grease, and begin stirring vigorously with a fork, which works best for this. The grease will react with angry boiling, which will soon subside. Scrape the bottom of the skillet as you stir, loosening any bits of meat sticking to it. Don't remove these from the gravy, as long as they aren't burnt, because they add to the flavour. Scrape the sides of the skillet often.
Scoop out a generous forkful of the cream of mushroom soup, about ¼ of the can. Stir rapidly into the bubbling gravy until smooth.
Add ½ cup of milk, stirring constantly, and blend it into the gravy. Stir in ½ can of the soup, stir to blend well. Add another ½ cup of milk and the final ¼ can of soup. Stir vigorously to blend thoroughly. By now, there shouldn't be any visible grease floating around on top of the gravy. Add ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and blend well.
Stir in another ½ cup of milk if the gravy appears too thick to you. It should have the consistency of pancake batter at this point. Add a little more milk, if necessary. Remember that the gravy will continue to thicken even more as it cooks.
Put the topside pieces into the gravy, covering them with it. Turn the heat down as low as it will go and cover the skillet. Uncover and stir after 5 minutes. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes. Uncover, stir and turn the meat over, making sure that it is immersed in the gravy. Cover and simmer 10 more minutes, stirring once more halfway through.
Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the meat to a warmed plate. Stir the gravy very well, and thin with a little milk, if necessary. Serve the topside in gravy immediately. Don't forget to spoon plenty of that gravy over the mashed potatoes.
Tips and warnings
- Using a heavy iron skillet distributes heat evenly throughout the pan. It's also the easiest material to clean when using this method of preparing any gravy.
- Substitute water or unsalted broth for the milk, if you wish, although the gravy won't be quite as rich.
- Make gravy with the same method when you've fried pork chops or chicken. Just drain most of the grease from the skillet, leaving about 1/8 inch.
- Don't add any salt to the topside or to the gravy until you're done adding ingredients. Taste it, then salt if you wish. There's plenty of it already in the soup.
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