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Eric Akis: Rib-sticking, saucy braised steak is a comfort food classic

The blade steak used in this recipe is a moderately priced, tougher cut of beef that becomes deliciously tender and flavourful when baked and braised in a rich sauce.
Blade steak is seared, baked and braised until deliciously tender. ERIC AKIS

I’m always looking for an excuse to make comfort food and when hearing last week we were going to have a spell of colder weather I had one. A good reason, as any, to stay at home and cook something that was invitingly aromatic, hearty and rib sticking.

I decided to cook steak, but not a tender-when-medium-rare one, such as rib eye or strip loin. I instead chose more budget-friendly blade steak, a cut that comes from the shoulder of the animal. It has a rich beefy flavour, but is a tougher cut that requires moist, slow cooking to make it mouth wateringly tender.

To achieve that, I bought a two-and-a-half centimetre thick, boneless blade steak and cut it into two portions. I patted the excess moisture off the steaks, seasoned and floured them, and then seared them in hot oil.

They were then set in a baking dish I made a rich sauce in the skillet, with such things as beef stock, onions, garlic, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. That sauce was poured over the steaks and they were covered and baked and braised for one hour and 40 minutes, until wonderfully tender.

The steaks are pretty saucy, which made mashed potatoes a good side dish to serve with them. I also served the steaks with snap peas and carrots.

Baked and Braised Steak

The blade steak used in this recipe is a moderately priced, tougher cut of beef that becomes deliciously tender and flavourful when baked and braised in a rich sauce.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cook time: about one hour 55 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 (about 500 gram) boneless blade steak

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

• salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, halved and sliced

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 cups low sodium beef stock (divided)

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cut the steak in half, lengthwise. If needed, trim off some of the excess fat, and then pat the two pieces of steak dry with paper towel.

Spread the flour out on a plate. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, and then coat in flour. Heat the oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, shake the excess flour off the steaks (reserve the leftover flour on the plate). Set steaks in the skillet and sear two to three minutes per side. Remove skillet from the heat, and then transfer steaks to an eight-inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 325 F.

Set the skillet back over the heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about two to three minutes. Stir in 2 Tbsp of the reserved flour and the mustard, mix well to combine, and then cook one to two minutes more. Slowly mix in 1/2 cup of the stock and bring to a simmer. When mixture is very thick, slowly mix in the rest of the stock. Mix in the thyme, soy sauce, vinegar and Worcestershire. Bring back to a simmer, taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Pour the sauce over the steaks, tightly cover with aluminum foil and bake one hour and 40 minutes, or until very tender. Plate the steaks, top with the sauce and serve.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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