- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chuck steaks (3/4-inch thick), or chuck roast cut into steaks
- Salt and pepper
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 quart beef broth (optional)
Season the beef on both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet just large enough to accommodate the meat in one layer (cast-iron works well), melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the meat, raise the heat, and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
When the meat is browned, scatter the bay leaves and cloves into the crevices and give the cloves a minute or two to give off their fragrance and swell. Reduce the heat to low, add the vinegar and deglaze the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (hold the meat out of the way with a fork if you need to).
Add enough beef broth or water to halfway cover the meat, cover tightly and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 2 hours, checking the level of liquid every 20 minutes or so and adding more beef broth or water as necessary to keep the meat at least halfway submerged. Turn the meat a couple of times during cooking.
When the meat is tender and falling apart, remove it to a platter. Reduce the remaining liquid to a thick sauce, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon. If you have trouble getting all of the browned bits, add a little more vinegar. Return the beef to the pan and serve hot, with mashed potatoes.