Better Call Salisbury Steak
Updated: Jul 25
For my whole life, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes kinda Viking. Ladle on some piping hot and country fresh gravy, and I’m not sure I really need much else to be happy...at least as far as food goes. However, I’m sure most of us who are familiar with the workings of a kitchen have struggled at least a few times with, “I have a bunch of ground beef. What should I do with it?”
If it were summer time, ground beef has a super easy answer of, “Let’s grill up some burgers!” And who doesn’t like a good cheeseburger? But right now, it’s cold outside and we could all use something a little more hearty and comforting. A solid option is Salisbury steak.
But first, a very brief history lesson. “James Salisbury (1823–1905) was an American physician and chemist known for his advocacy of a meat-centered diet to promote health, and the term Salisbury steak for a ground beef patty served as an entrée has been used in the United States since 1897.” - Wikipedia
He had me at, “meat-centered diet to promote health.”
Now I know this dish has gotten a bad reputation over the years due to it being boxed and sold in frozen TV dinners with all kinds of fillers and preservatives. When many English and American heritage dishes, such as this, first gained popularity in the 18th and 19th century, the only ingredients available were organic, small batch, and locally sourced. Back then, food was life and a labor of love and not just a scroll through your phone. Luckily for us, much of what’s old is becoming new again! But the best part is that once you master the basic steps for this recipe, you can apply it to many other cuts of beautiful grass-fed beef to keep the good food and gravy flowing from your kitchen
Prepare your patties!
2lbs Ground beef
½ Medium yellow onion, minced
1 Clove garlic, minced
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 Large egg
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
½ tsp Ground cumin (optional)
The first thing you’re going to want to do is get out your 12” cast iron skillet with lid. Don’t have one? A dutch oven or oven safe stainless saucepan will do just fine.
Over medium high heat, add about a tablespoon of butter to your pan. (When it comes to cooking fats, I’m more of a Paula Deen than a Mario Batali.) Once melted and the bubbles stop, add your onions with a pinch of salt and maybe a sprinkle of black pepper for good measure. Our goal here is to stir them occasionally and cook until translucent with maybe just a little touch of brown for flavor. Then stir in the garlic for long enough for your kitchen to smell amazing. It shouldn’t take long.
Then set the onions and garlic aside in a dish to cool to room temp. Oh, and don’t go wiping out your pan. Everything left in there is flavor for later!
Once your onions and garlic have cooled, add them into a large mixing bowl with the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add other seasonings in at this point. A bit of fresh thyme wouldn’t be the worst idea you’ve had today. I opted for about ½ tsp of ground cumin. But ultimately, “This is your world, you can do whatever you want.” - Bob Ross
Mix until everything is well combined, but don’t over work the meaty mixture or you may end up with a final result that is a little tough. This should be enough to get you 6 steaks. You can break out the scale to be precise about dividing things up. But I usually just eyeball it, and maybe take the biggest one for myself…
No need to be fancy or precise. 6 roughly burger shaped patties about a ½ in thick will do.
Return your pan to medium high heat with about 2 Tbsp. of butter. (Trust me, it’s worth it.) Same drill, once the bubbling stops you’re ready to cook. You don’t want to overcrowd your pan, so I’d suggest searing the patties in 2-3 batches.
We’re going for a nice golden brown on the outside for extra flavor. This means, once you place them in the pan, wait a little while and don’t go fiddling with them! Once you get a deep brown color on the bottom, then you can flip them. Get some good color on the other side and then set them aside in a dish. Don’t worry about cooking them all the way through. We’ll do that later in the oven.
Ready your ladles!
2 Tbsp flour
2 Cups beef stock
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
By now you hopefully have a pan with a bunch of crispy bits and oils and stuff in the bottom. You may even be thinking that you should clean this out. Don’t! That stuff is called “fond” and it’s how delicious gravies happen. However, you’re going to want to remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the pan.
Keep your pan going on medium high heat and vigorously whisk in the flour. Don’t forget to scrape up any stuck on crispy bits and keep whisking until all of the flour is cooked through and maybe the mixture turns a beautiful light brown. For the uninitiated, you just made a roux!
Slowly pour in your beef stock. This should cause it to seize up into a pasty mess, but power through it and you’ll be rewarded with what resembles a watery gravy.
Keep stirring until this comes up to a rolling simmer and you should see everything thicken into a delicious gravy that can coat the back of a spoon. Right before you’ve reached the proper gravy thickness, add in the Kitchen Bouquet, which is a great little life hack to make your brown gravies even more delicious.
And most importantly, don’t forget to add salt and pepper until it tastes like you know good gravy should!
Everyone in the pool!
8oz Mushrooms, sliced (optional)
½ yellow onion, sliced
At this point, we have mostly cooked meat and delicious gravy. Nestle the meat back into the pan with the gravy like the most delicious hot tub you’ve ever seen. Then spread the sliced onions and mushrooms on top.
Cover it up and throw it in a 325 degree oven for about 45 mins to an hour or until the steaks, onions, and mushrooms are cooked through.
Finally, let it rest covered for about 15 mins before dishing it up.
But I only have a main course!
Can’t fool you! Salisbury steak goes great with a side of mashed potatoes, or a good long grain white rice and some veggies like these Scrumptious Southern Green Beans. If you’re still feeling adventurous, you could even try it over some egg noodles or sautéed cabbage, or just next to a heaping pile of potato salad!