Saturday, December 8, 2012

Salisbury Steak

I love Salisbury Steak so much, it was in the short rotation of birthday meal requests of my youth.  Not too many folks would hold such a relatively peasant meal in high regard, but I have a love affair with onions.  All things genus allium, actually.  I know my Mom hated slicing all that onion, but she did it anyway, at least once a year, to make her kid happy.  While the other one cursed my yearly dinner choice.  Salisbury steak and Boston Cream Pie made from scratch, that was a familiar pairing most every November third.  Her version is one of those well-used yellowed index cards in the recipe box, decorated with brown spots of gravy.  This recipe is similar, although omitting some old school items like the beef bouillon cube, and introducing new ones like a shot of Korbel brandy.  Every bite brings me right back to the kitchen table as a 12 yr old, just like every time on the radio I hear the Stones' Paint it Black I immediately recall laying on the living room carpet watching China Beach four feet from the tube. 

You are making caramelized onion gravy, therefore you must serve this with mashed potaters.  That's not a suggestion.  Substituting ground beef for the sirloin is a cheaper option if your ponies didn't win this week.  We didn't have any fungus on our dinner plates growing up, but they do make a nice addition to this meal if you like to shroom. 

My wife, the intelligent foodie that she is, prefers the Wisconsin Club for her birthday meal.  Perhaps you've been there?  They know how to cook, and tend the bar quite nicely as well. 

Why the funny name?   

Salisbury Steak
2 large servings

for the steak-
1 lb ground sirloin
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 ts Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ts dry mustard
1/4 ts onion powder
1/4 C seasoned bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 ts kosher salt
1/4 ts freshly cracked black pepper

for the gravy-
1 TB butter
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, halved and very thinly sliced
pinch kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
shot of brandy
2 C low-sodium beef broth
1 TB ketchup
1/2 ts Worcestershire sauce
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced and sauteed (optional)
2 ts cornstarch
S&P, if needed

Gently mix all the steak ingredients, shape into 2 large or 3 medium patties.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the very healthy fat EVOO.  Once nice and sizzly hot, add the beef patties.  Cook until browned on one side, about 3-5 minutes depending on the shape/heat, then flip and cook until done, another few minutes.  Remove from the skillet onto a plate, tent with aluminum foil. 

Turn down the heat to medium, add the very thinly sliced onion and season with just a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until well browned, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the brandy and scrape the pan well to loosen all the tasty bits.  Fond, if you prefer the technical term.   Add the broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, stir well.  Let this mixture reduce a bit, cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  To thicken the gravy a bit, make a slurry by stirring a ts or so of water with the cornstarch.  Add half of the slurry to the sauce, stir to incorporate.  If after a couple minutes it seems thin, add the rest of the cornstarch/water mixture.  

Return the cooked patties to the skillet, toss in them shrooms too if using.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and let the patties heat through, spooning oniony gravy over them to warm and season them.  Taste your gravy and season with S&P if needed.  Probably only needs a bit more freshly cracked black pepper, as I like this dish to shout ONION! BEEF! PEPPER!  Serve when the steaks have been heated through and your gravy has thickened to your liking.  If it becomes too thick, you can thin with a bit of broth or water. 

Look underneath them onions caramelizing.  That's the tasty bits stuck to the skillet from cooking the steaks, which will add much flavor to the gravy by deglazing the pan with a shot of brandy and scraping with a wooden spatula. 

Salisbury steaks, swimming in onion gravy with a side of roasted-garlic mash potaters.  That's a solid winter meal right there.  You don't even have to wait till your birthday.  

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