[Sca-cooks] OOP: Query on Steak Smothered In Onions...

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Fri Aug 25 20:41:34 PDT 2006

I have spent part of today pulling books and looking for this.
(Why do I have a feeling that John Thorne has done this?)
It's not in the Oxford two volume set on American cuisine.
A lot of American volumes are boxed, so that's no good.
I will mention and this probably part of the story that
John T. Edge in the volume Hamburgers & Fries includes a chapter
 titled "Hard Time Onions." It discusses that there came to be
a liberal use of onions during the depression because onions
were cheap and added flavor to really cheap cuts.One entire
chapter of the book tackles the famed Onion Burger of El Reno
Oklahoma (Bear and Margaret should chime in here) where
"The Fried Onion Burger Day Festival is a tribute to the aromatic,
unique burgers, which have been cooked daily in El Reno since the early 

But back to the phrase "Steak smothered in onions" where things get
How about "BEEFSTEAK SMOTHERED IN ONIONS. Cut one dozen onions into 
slices, fry a quarter pound
... Have ready a broiled steak, place it in the pan with the onions"
which appears in an 1896 Manual for Army Cooks.
The recipe is up at
There's even a Welsh method for the dish.

There are some 482 pages that Google Book finds for
the phrase in quotes "steak smothered in onions."
Here's another  one this time from 1893 and the
Housekeeper's Guide: A Choice Collection of Recipes, Tried, Tested, Proved
By Pa.). Ladies' Aid Society Methodist Episcopal Church (Honesdale)
This one is 1894 and in Cookery Craft: As Practiced in 1894 by the Women 
of the South Church, St Johnsbury, Vt.

There are lots more, but I think I will quit for now.
I just came across this quote
"My favorite menu is *steak smothered* with *onions* and strawberry 
shortcake." The speaker
is Governor Ronald Reagan speaking in the book Governor Reagan: His Rise 
to Power.

Hope this helps.

Johnnae llyn Lewis

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
> so here's what I'm wondering about...snipped lots....
> the "steak smothered in onions" thing seems to  
> have reached its height in the US in the 1940's and '50's, snipped
> I believe I've seen references to SSIO as a Depression-era truck stop  
> lunch-counter type of item, cooked on a griddle alongside such  
> yummies as the world-famous Hamburger Steak Sandwich snipped The steak would be a  
> cheap cut, possibly pounded, seared until brown and then finished  
> among a pile of fried/sauteed onions on the cool spot 
> I believe Andy Smith (not the late SCAdian duke, the food historian  
> with the tomato fixation) sent me an e-mail which included a  
> nineteenth-century recipe for smothered steaks which featured onions,  
> and ISTR it was pretty similar to a smothered pork chop recipe, but I  
> now can't locate the message.snipped
> Adamantius

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