There’s something comforting about simple, old-school comfort foods. The simplicity of the food and the warm memories of another place and time. It’s good for the soul, especially when life seems to be running away with your sanity. The very first time I ever ate Salisbury Steak, it was part of a TV dinner – I kid you not. And not the stuff of today that comes in a cardboard box that is “zapped” in the microwave. We are talking those tin dishes with raised dividers – the steak prominently featured on one side and smothered in a brown sauce while the other half of the tin was divided into convenient “sections” with corn at one end and something resembling mashed potatoes on the other. The entire tin dish was covered with foil and needed to be cooked in the oven for what seemed to be forever.
As a kid, I loved them. I know, it’s crazy, but true. Let me back up a moment – TV Dinners were not a part of our mealtime selection. My mother made wonderful, home-cooked meals every night. The kitchen always smelled of something yummy roasting in the oven. My best friend was not so fortunate. She was an only child. Although I didn’t know it at the time, her parents were what are known as functioning alcoholics. They managed to hold down steady jobs. For them, supper came from a bottle. More often than not, she came home to a cold kitchen, tucked her parents into bed and then took a “well-balanced” dinner from the freezer. When dinner wasn’t from the freezer, it came in a can. (Until I had dinner at her house, I didn’t realize you could actually get a spaghetti dinner complete with meatballs simply by opening a can). Nor did it occur to me to sit in the living room with a tray for a table and the TV for company. You know the saying, the grass is always greener – she loved eating at our house. We sat at the table together, had conversations, and never, ever ate in the same room as the TV. I liked eating at her house – you could have whatever you wanted for dinner and watch TV at the same time. Looking back, my friend missed out on the magic of being a part of a family and I was foolish enough to consider trading places with her.
Still, I liked the idea of Salisbury Steak, but with grown-up flavors and a savory mushroom gravy. The mashed potatoes are still a part of the Salisbury experience, only now they are made from real potatoes and are served up in a big bowl. And let’s not forget the corn – piping hot with plenty of creamy butter. Yum!
When Brother Dear came to stay with us before he became ill, this was one of his favorite “comfort” dinners. As a big fan of just about anything made with ground hamburger and served up with mashed potatoes and corn, he was in blue-plate heaven. While it’s a bit of a pain to make (the “steaks” are a two-cook process – searing and baking), the end result is oh so tasty. Searing the patties first gives them an additional layer of flavor and wonderful texture that wouldn’t otherwise exist. It’s definitely a step you don’t want to skip. I hope you enjoy these “steaks” as much as he did. Let me raise my glass of soda and toast my brother, with his simple needs and simple tastes.
Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Ingredients – Salisbury Steak
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Package Dry Onion Soup Mix
½ Cup Dried Bread Crumbs
1 Package Beef Flavor Booster
Ingredients – Mushroom Gravy
1 Tablespoon Flour
3 Tablespoons Butter, divided
1 Can Condensed French Onion Soup
1 Cup Beef Broth
2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ Teaspoon Dry Mustard
1 Package Beef Flavor Booster
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ Cup Mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
In a large bowl, combine dry soup mix, bread crumbs, egg and flavor booster. Mix well. Divide mixture into 6 balls, form into patties.
In a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, sear meat well on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large high rimmed glass casserole dish. (If necessary, arrange steaks in two dishes). Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine flour and 1 tablespoon butter, saute until well blended to create a roux.
Add French Onion Soup, beef broth, Worcestershire Sauce and dry mustard. Stir to blend, bring to a low boil. Add Flavor Booster. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Remove gravy from heat, blend in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until smooth. Pour over Salisbury Steaks. Top with sliced mushrooms. Cover with foil and place in oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven, transfer steak to a rimmed serving platter. Spoon or ladle the gravy generously over the steaks and serve. Don’t forget the mashed potatoes and buttery corn!