As the temperatures plunge, I always look forward to diving into the protein stored up from the rest of the year in our freezer. As a hunter and as a working man, I find there simply is no …
As the temperatures plunge, I always look forward to diving into the protein stored up from the rest of the year in our freezer. As a hunter and as a working man, I find there simply is no replacement for a steady diet of venison and other meats harvested from our bountiful country setting. Ever the glutton for a rib-stickin’ meal, I enjoy my wife’s ability to produce a number of gravies. A little broth and flour go a long way, but my former dairy-farmer wife knows a thing or two more that really make these liquidy accouterments sing.
January is my birthday month, and so in the spirit of that, she decided to make me a hearty meal, Salisbury steak. To elevate this dish, she opted to make egg noodles in place of the typical mashed potatoes that would normally be served with Salisbury steak. It was somewhat like a stroganoff, the way the thick brown gravy covered the noodles. Very tasty, if I do say so myself. Additionally, she made some lovely mixed vegetables for the side, because what meal is complete without hitting as many of the basic food groups as possible?
Salisbury steaks may seem difficult to make, but they can give you a real confidence boost when executed. The steaks are, in essence, nothing more than hamburger patties. The recipe shown has a great combination for seasoning these, but there are countless other ways to make the flavor your own. Once these are cooked and placed on the side, the gravy is where the magic happens. Again, the recipe here is one that we use for reference, but my wife and I always try to substitute some personal ingredients in because we have fresh ones available, or because we lack the ingredients we should have had. There is a great deal of room for forgiveness in hitting the wide target flavor, though. Mostly you want it to taste savory, earthy and, of course, meaty. Anything else is just the accompaniment to a solid feature.
A few things I ought to note: We like to use a cast-iron pan whenever possible because they add a subtle something to anything they touch. However, if you have a large high-walled skillet, that would work equally well. The main concern with whatever pan you use is whether it has enough volume to hold the steaks and gravy as they cook together without spilling over the sides. Trust me, you are going to want all the gravy you can get once it’s done. The cast-iron pan we use is about 10 inches across with 2.5-inch sides, and it barely holds everything. So, if you don’t have a large pan like that or bigger, consider using two pans to divide the gravy before returning the steaks to cook in it.
Another thought to consider is what kind of meat you use. We have lots of venison on hand, so that’s what we used. It meets the need for the earthy flavors very nicely and acts very much like beef. Beef, of course, is more readily available at the store, and other protein options can be used, depending on your inclination.
The way out here, we like our steaks juicy and rare, and when the weather gets cold, a nice gravy never hurts, either. Homemade Salisbury steaks are an excellent choice for anyone with a little bit of time and a whole lot of hunger. Skip the TV-dinner version—this is the way we do Salisbury steaks out here.
For the steak
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 pound or 500 grams of beef
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 beef bouillon cube (crumbled)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
For the gravy
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 onion (finely chopped)
5 ounces or 150 grams mushrooms (sliced)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
2 cups (500 ml) beef broth/stock
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Place breadcrumbs in a bowl. Use a box grater and grate the onion over the breadcrumbs. Mix with fingers and leave to soak for a few minutes. Add remaining Salisbury steak ingredients into the large bowl, using your hands to combine until it resembles paste. Divide into 5 and pat firmly into oval patties 3/4-inch thick. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the steaks and cook the first side for 1 minute or until brown, then flip and brown the other side. (They will still be raw inside.) Then remove to a plate.
If the skillet is looking dry, add some more oil. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms into the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Turn heat down to medium and add butter. Once melted, add flour and cook for 30 seconds stirring constantly. Gradually add in beef broth, stirring as you go. Once mostly lump free, whisk in the remaining gravy ingredients. Add steaks along with juices on the plate. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until gravy is thickened, stirring occasionally around the steaks. If gravy thickens too quickly, add some water. Remove steaks onto a plate. Taste gravy and add salt and pepper to taste. Serving Salisbury steaks topped with the mushroom gravy over mashed potato is ideal.
Recipe courtesy of Recipetineats.com.
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