Salisbury steak always makes me think of TV dinners, greasy, gristly meat, gravy loaded with MSG... I'd better stop, I'm grossing myself out. It's actually a really tasty dish, when made from scratch. It won't win any elegance awards, but it's hearty and savory with a nice beefy, meaty tone to it, and it's quick to make and inexpensive.
Until I started doing research for this post, I didn't know where the name came from. I had always assumed it hailed from Salisbury, England. Somehow in my head, adding bread crumbs to meat to stretch it seems like a very British thing to do. (I think it's the bangers.) But, thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia, I am now informed that it takes its name from Dr. James Salisbury, an early proponent of low-carb dieting. I'm not entirely certain why he favored chopped beef, versus a perfectly good steak, like most carnivores. However, the original Salisbury steak contained no bread crumbs. Internet rumor has it that it was a modification by thrifty WWII housewives, to stretch precious beef supplies a little further.
Time: about 30 minutes
Planning Ahead: None
The Funny Stuff: No funny stuff
Virtues: Easy, fast
Downsides: None, really. A bit on the high fat side.
1/2 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 an onion, minced
1 sprig of fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
pepper to taste
2 cups sliced mushrooms
The other 1/2 an onion, sliced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp beef soup base
1/2 cup water
Combine the beef, salt, and worcestershire sauce, and let sit for 10 minutes. While it's sitting, prep all of the veggies, and preheat your skillet to medium, and your oven to 350.
Add the thyme, cracker crumbs, egg, and onion.
Goosh everything together. (I'm pretty sure gooshing is the technical term for this operation.)
Form into hamburger style patties, and drop into the pan.
Cook 3-5 minutes, until brown on the first side, and flip.
Once they're brown on both sides, pop them in the oven on an oven-safe dish, and add the onions to the pan, stirring occasionally.
Once the onions are softened and starting to brown a bit, add the mushrooms, and toss them until lightly cooked.
Sprinkle the vegetables with two tablespoons of flour, and toss to coat.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, stirring quickly to prevent the flour from making lumps.
Let that reduce a bit, and then add the beef base and water.
Stir everything together, scraping the pan to get the reduced wine up, and voila, you have a lovely brown gravy.
Pour the gravy over the meat, and serve.
Photo credits to Aaron Wood and Aleatha Parker-Wood.