Salisbury Steak originated in America in the late 1800’s but became especially popular in the 1960’s with the advent of the TV dinner. While the TV dinner versions leave a lot to be desired, this version frequently appeared on our dinner table when I was growing up, especially when my mother was feeding a crowd. At the time, we didn’t call this dish Salisbury Steak. We called it “Elephant Turds” (mothers will try anything to get kids to try something new). The name stuck and it wasn’t until I was a grown up that I realized it was called Salisbury Steak by the rest of the world (or at least more civilized families). Definitely not haute cuisine, this is classic American comfort food born during a time when ground beef was considered an economical way to feed a family.
Ground chuck is best for these savory mini-meatloaves. Extra lean ground beef or ground sirloin can be used but be aware that they are a bit too lean and may result in a drier patty. Buy the best quality of ground chuck that you can find. This recipe will serve 4 and is very easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. It is very good made a day or two in advance and reheated before serving. It also freezes very well.
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 ½ pounds ground chuck
1 cup soft bread crumbs (about 2 slices white bread)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
1 cup beef broth (boullion cubes are fine here)
2 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup dry sherry, red wine or beer
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; add onions, salt & pepper and sauté until onions are tender. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, ½ of the cooled cooked onions, egg. Mix gently with hands or fork. Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch thick oval patties.
Over medium-high heat, brown the steaks quickly on both sides; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking 15 minutes longer.
Combine the cornstarch, water, ketchup, and sherry; blend well. Pour the ketchup mixture over the Salisbury steaks. Add the other half of the reserved cooked onions and gently stir to combine with the liquid. Cover and simmer until the sauce is thickened.
Serve with mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese or rice pilaf.