cube steak

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Tue Jul 17 15:32:31 UTC 2001

I'm not quite sure about the attributions. Hopefully this is at least close.

From:    Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
: sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM> (sounds delicious!) wrote:
: >Alice Faber wrote:
: >>A. Maberry said:

: >>>What does the "cube" in cube steak signify? I seem to recall
: >>>hearing also "cubed steak".

: >Swiss steak and cube steak are prepared similarly in that both
: >are subjected to pounding  by some sort of implement to break
: >down the connective fibers.

: At home I have an implement that I'm pretty sure is designed for
: just this purpose, though we've never used it AFAIK; it came as
: part of a set many years ago. It's a wooden mallet one of whose
: ends is cut into pyramids, producing a striking surface covered
: with points tapering at more or less a solid right angle, which
: presumably will break the fibers of the meat without puncturing
: the surface and letting the juices run out.

: Now, I don't remember whether these are three- or four-sided
: pyramids; probably the latter, which would be much easier to
: shape in mass production...

All of them i've seen are four-sided pyramids, and the teeth are arranged in
rows. In addition, any i've seen have two sides to the mallet, one with a
larger set of teeth and one with a smaller.

Growing up, my mother had one of these in metal (too heavy to be aluminum),
and she called it (and therefore i call it) a "meat tenderizer". (I now have
a wooden one, but i've never had occasion to use it.) I've seen them
(aluminum ones, judging from their weight) occasionally in kitchen stores in
places as different as Pennsylvania and Utah, so i know they must still be
occasionally bought and presumably used, although it seems that the
discs-with-a-handle ("meat pounders" or just "pounders", i learned to call
them) that people generally use nowadays to flatten meats have largely taken
over from them.

: ...But a corner of a cube *is* a right-angled three-sided
: pyramid, and I suspect that that is the connection between
: the kitchen operation and the geometrical name of its result.

I doubt the connection, actually. Anytime i've seen cube steak, the name
made sense to me because the cuts are arranged in squares, making it look
like the meat was on the verge of falling apart into little cubish pieces.
Also, my mother used her meat tenderizer (or, more usually, got one of us
kids to use her meat tenderizer) on any piece of meat that she thought might
be too tough or that she wanted to flatten out to make it go further; meat
tenderizers are a much more general-use implement than just making cube
steak (and, IIRC, i never had proper cube steak growing up).


We talk about food a *lot* on this list.

David Bowie                                       Department of English
Assistant Professor                            Brigham Young University
db.list at    
   The opinions stated here are not necessarily those of my employer

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