Zwiebelrostbraten (Steak & Fried Onions)

Dinner for me in the late sixties and early seventies tended to be pretty straight forward Scottish fare. Both my parents being from Glasgow meant meals were usually mince with curry, shepherd's pie, steak & kidney pie, bubble & squeak, gammon & eggs, etc. We lived in Canada but the food remained from my parent’s homeland. So, it was with complete surprise and wonder, when some time around 1972, I was presented with crisp corn tortilla shells, seasoned ground beef, vegetables, and some spicy tomato sauce called salsa. The flavours were so different, so clean, spicy and tart. I loved it, I begged for it weekly until my parents got sick of making it.

That dinner was so memorable, though, that they continued to try new dishes. When my mother first prepared chicken fricassee I couldn’t get enough. That gravy alone, some sort of heavenly creation, was a particular favourite. Salty and rich, spooned liberally over my rice, to this day one of my all time favourite meals. Each new dish made me want to try more. My first dim sum meal, my first gyros from Gus’s, my first taste of lassi, or tandoori chicken. It goes on and on.

There is an element of revelation in another country’s cuisine. Unfamiliar combinations of flavours that captures your imagination, or sometimes, familiar flavours presented in a new way. Every now and then I get the urge to try and find that new dish that I’ve never heard of yet and make them for L (remember my Chicken Adobo?). Lately, I’ve been thinking of preparing zwiebelrostbraten. It’s an Austrian dish of fried onions and rib-eye steak, served with sautéed new potatoes (or roestkartoffel). It is one of those recipes that when I first laid eyes on it I knew it was going to be good. Steak coated in mustard, dusted with flour and fried, I mean, come on. Just that should be getting your taste buds tingling. It was quite easy to make as well, even with my tiny stove and my limited skill.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between my recipe and a traditional version is that I didn’t hammer my steak flat. The idea is to hammer your meat to a thickness of about 1 cm. The meat I got seemed thin enough for me (about 2-2.5 cm) and ended up perfectly cooked anyway. Apparently, other than the potatoes, a pickled cucumber and a spoonful of mustard is served with this Austrian dish, I settled for some sour cream.

ZWIEBELROSTBRATEN (Steak & Fried Onions)

FRIED ONIONS (Roest Zwiebel)

1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup flour
¼ cup smoked paprika
sea salt
vegetable oil

1. Preheat oil in a pan to 325°F.

2. In a bowl, toss the onions with flour and most of the paprika. Shake off excess flour and fry the onions until golden brown. Put them on paper towel and season with a little salt, cumin & more paprika. After about 5 minutes move to fresh paper towel and repeat after another 5 minutes. Put in the oven at the lowest setting and forget about them for about an hour or so (or until you need them).

RIB-EYE STEAK (Rostbraten)

2 organic rib eye steaks (about 8 oz each)
2 tbsp each Dijon mustard
2 tbsp peanut oil
2+1 tbsp butter (chill the 2 tbsp)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup beef stock
(veal demi-glace, optional)
¼ cup mixed herbs, like parsley, tarragon and chives (keep some chives aside for sprinkling at the end)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Salt and pepper the steaks. Thinly coat one side of each of the steaks with mustard and lightly flour the same side. In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil and the 1 tablespoon of butter. When the pan is hot fry the steak, flour side down first, for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over meat and sauté for another 2 minutes. Meat should be medium-rare. When done, remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven at the lowest setting.

2. Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar and beef stock (and demi-glace if you decided to use it). Reduce by half.

3. Finish sauce by whisking in the remaining (chilled) 2 tablespoons of butter and the minced herbs.


1 cup new potatoes, peeled and halved
1 tbsp finely diced chives
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
duck fat (or bacon fat, or olive oil, or peanut oil)

sour cream (to serve)

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Put over high heat and when it reaches a boil, turn down to a simmer until cooked (about 15 - 20 minutes). Drain and put aside.

2. Heat the duck fat (or whatever fat/oil you are using) in a skillet. Put the potatoes in and leave them alone for a while until they start to brown, about 3 minutes or so. Flip them and leave them again.

3. While they cook put the chives and a little sea salt in a bowl. When the potatoes are browned on a couple of sides remove to the bowl and toss with the chives and salt.

4. Taste and season with sea salt & freshly ground pepper. Serve with a side of sour cream with a sprinkle of chives.


Emily said...

Wow this looks absolutely good and probably taste delicious. I can’t wait to try this at home.

plasterers bristol said...

yummy. Top marks for this, tastes delicious. Thanks for sharing.