A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 10, 2009
Minute Steak

Entry in progress—B.P.

Practically Edible
Minute Steak
Meal that would normally be quite chewy, such as that from the tougher area of the Sirloin or from the Eye of Round, is cut into small, very thin (about 1/4 inch/ 5 cm) steaks. The thinness makes it easier to chew, which makes the meat seem more tender. The steaks are always boneless.

This is sometimes called a Cube Steak, which is wrong. A Cube Steak is something else. The confusion, however, has beenaround so long that it is probably past fixing.

wiseGEEK
What is a Minute Steak?
The minute steak is a thin cut of red meat that can be prepared in a very short period of time. Often, minute steak is composed of thin slices of round steak or sirloin, although just about any boneless beef can be used to create minute steak. Because minute steaks can be prepared so quickly, they have become a staple in many homes where the time to prepare a home cooked meal is limited.

Part of the preparation process for minute steak involves thoroughly scoring or pounding the surface of the meat. The process of using a kitchen mallet to pound the meat will result in a texture that is tender and can easily be cut with a fork. Scoring and pounding also will help the juices contained in the meat to release more easily during the cooking time, which will result in the minute steak remaining relatively moist and supple when it arrives at the dinner table.

Generally, minute steak is pan fried. After pounding the steak and infusing it with salt and pepper, the minute steak is placed in a pre-heated frying pan and allowed to sear for a moment or two. The minute steak is then turned, allowing the opposite side to sear as well. Some people prefer to add a dash of soy sauce at this stage, enhancing the flavor of the steak.

Epicurious.com: Food Dictionary
minute steak
A very thin, boneless beefsteak sometimes scored for tenderizing. It’s small (6 to 9 ounces) and therefore usually cooked briefly — 1 minute per side — over very high heat. See also BEEF.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Main Entry: min·ute steak
Pronunciation: \ˈmi-nət-\
Function: noun
Date: 1921
: a small thin steak that can be quickly cooked

(Oxford English Dictionary)
minute steak n. a thin slice of steak which is cooked very quickly; (also) steak of this type.
1916 A. S. RICHARDSON Adventures in Thrift ii. 50 He explained their points clearly, and then a young bride brought up the question: ‘What is *minute steak?’
1924 Travel Apr. 40/2 The parilla section of the bill-of-fare..is as much of a fixture today as the Englishman’s roast, and under it there is forthcoming a ‘minute steak’.
1959 Good Food Guide 204 The grills..range from 6/6 (minute steak) to 9/6 (mixed grill, including vegetables).
1991 J. LEVESQUE Rosseter’s Memory VII. 111 Someone had recently fried a minute steak with too much garlic powder on it.

5 February 1912, Duluth (MN) News-Tribune, pg. 3 ad:
Small Steak a La Minute
(New St. Louis Hotel—ed.)

30 March 1913, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Kitchenette Marketing,” magazine supplement, pg. 2:
The “minute steak” is quite another matter. This is a half-inch slice cut from a steak showing the minimum of bone. When cooked it is more like a thick slice of roast beef than anything else, and is the exact opposite of the cut before described. (Steak roast—ed.) It answers very well for two persons and requires hardly more than the minute’s cooking which its name implies. An accommodating marketman will trim such a steak so that it will make a good appearance when served. If asked, he will even divide it into the required number of portions.

Google Books
March 1913, McClure’s magazine, pg. 36, col. 2:
A while ago they was a party up ‘n the Indian grill, an’ merely because he had to wait an hour for a steak a la minute, he begins beefin’ for the head waiter.

Google Books
Adventures in Thrift
By Anna Steese Richardson
Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill COmpany
Copyright 1915, 1916
Pg. 50:
“Minute steak,” explained the chef, “is any good cut, without bone, sliced very thin. It (Pg. 51—ed.) gets its name from the short time required to cook it.”

28 July 1916, Syracuse (NY) Herald, pg. 15, col. 1:
And a small “minute steak,” cut thin, which can be bought in New York for a quarter, will come to 40 cents here. And of course it is not a New York cut, with bone and fat. All that is trimmed away and put to other uses.

11 November 1916, Montgomery (AL) Advertiser, pg. 8 ad:
Grilled Minute Steak
(Montgomery Fair Tea Room—ed.)

Google Books
Practical Food Economy
By Alice Gitchell Kirk
Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company
1917
Pg. 61:
“Steak a la minute”, which is cut very thin and served with a brown sauce, is from one of the best round cuts, and is very popular in hotels and restaurants.

19 January 1919, San Jose (CA) Mercury News, “Only Cost a Half to Find Out,” pg. 20:
A New York restaurant, under new management as usual, advertises “Steak a la Minute, Lyonnaise potatoes. $5.00.” That may mean that the steak is served in a minute, or, more likely, that it’s a minute steak.—Buffalo Express.

2 July 1919, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Popular Beef Dishes” by Jean Prescott Adams, pg. 14:
The chuck and rump steaks are so like the round in the “minute steak” that they cannot be identified when served.

27 January 1922, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Everybody’s Column,” pg. 12:
“MINUTE STEAK”
Editor Everybody’s Column: Is the above item on the menu pronounced min’ute or mi-nute’ and why is it so named?
I.N.Q.

Distressingly appropriate as the adjective “min-nute” (meaning “diminutive") would be to the average steak in these days of H. C. L. (High Cost of Living—ed.), it is the noun “min-ute” that is intended in the above saying, thus tantalizing the customer who orders the tidbit so labelled with the alluring hope that he will be presented with it, tender, juicy and done to perfection, in no more than 60 seconds.

“Instantaneous Tapioca” might be suggested as a near-cousin to “minute steak.”

September 1925, The Caterer and Hotel proprietor’s Gazette, “Last Dinner in Delmonico’s,” pg. 50, col. 1:
It was in Delmonico’s, according to E. H. Nies, that chicken and lobster salad first made their appearance, that chicken a la King and the lobster Newburg were invented, that French fried potatoes, Russian dressing and terrapin were first served in New York, and the minute steak was invented by Edwin Gould.

(New York Public Library Menu Collection)
24 April 1926—Hotel Woodstock (43rd & Broadway) served “Steak Minute.”

Google Books
The Girl From Rector’s
By George Rector
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co.
1927
Pg. 121: 
We did not serve many beef sirloins, although Rector’s was responsible for that very popular and well-known dish, the steak a la minute.

After waiting an hour or so for this order to be served, you might naturally wonder how it ever got its maiden (Pg. 122—ed.) name of a la minute. It was the swiftest steak we served, because it was sliced thin as a wafer and cooked very quickly. If timed by reliable handicappers, I think the best we could have claimed for it was steak a la fifteen minutes.

Some guests pronounced minute with an accent on the last syllable, which made it mean very small or even infinitesimal. These guests were closer to the truth. But I refuse to validate that old story about the guest who asked his waiter to point out his steak and was informed that it was hiding under a pea. We were never fortunate enough to get peas of that size.

Google Books
Mary’s Lamb
By Hubert Osborne
Published by Haylofters Co.
1927
Pg. 16:
MINNIE: Minute steak? Does that mean it takes a minute to cook it, or a minute to eat it? (Looks at price) One dollar.

15 January 1956, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part 5, pg. 11:
MINUTE STEAK
Serve minute steaks, fried in butter, with lots of minced parsley. Good fresh taste. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, March 10, 2009 • Permalink