Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
When my sister Stacey and I were little girls in Lakefield, Minnesota, Friday nights were pretty special. Our beautiful mom would get dressed up, with glamorous make-up, hair, and perfume, and she and our dad would head out for a supper club dinner. The next morning they would tell us stories about how “Splash” the waiter could flawlessly pour water back-handed from several feet away and how the Chateaubriand they shared was butter-knife tender. I loved all of it, including the handful of cool-girl babysitters who would shower us with attention and make us TV dinners. I didn’t want to admit it, but the only one I really liked was the Salisbury steak dinner (although I used to cross my fingers there would be no stray peas in the apple cobbler). I felt like a grown-up eating “steak” plus I loved the smooth mashed potatoes and salty gravy.I skip the packaged dinners these days, opting to make Salisbury steak from scratch, from wholesome ingredients, blowing the peas off the frozen version, as it were. This is kid food, and grandparents food, and hungry teen food all wrapped up in one nostalgic dish, making it the perfect comfort food dinner. As a bonus: it’s a one-skillet superstar, prepared on the stove top, and ready in less than an hour.
If your kids don’t like mushrooms? Skip them. To keep the dish gluten-free, use GF bread (I did, worked like a charm). You could easily make the dish grain-free as well: skip the bread and milk, and thicken the gravy with a bit of tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. I stir a few spoonfuls of fermented sauerkraut into the finished pan sauce – seriously good, give it a go. However you opt to customize, serve over mashed potatoes, boiled egg noodles, or hearty toast; or skip the starch and snuggle the steaks up next to roasted Brussels, cauliflower, or broccoli.
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Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 large onion, sliced thin
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bread, processed into coarse bread crumbs
1/3 c. whole milk
1 large egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
few gratings of fresh nutmeg
few dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 lbs. meatloaf mix (ground beef and pork)
4 oz. button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 c. beef broth
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice, or hearty toast for serving
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until onions wilt and then slowly brown. Continue sauteing the onions until very soft and deeply browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a small bowl; set skillet aside while you mix and form the steaks.
While the onions brown, add bread crumbs to a large bowl. Cover with milk and let soak for 5 minutes. Whisk in the egg, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, and Worcestershire sauce. When the onions are done, add half of them to the mixture (reserve the other half for the gravy, below). Add the ground beef/pork to the bowl, sprinkle with 2 tsp. of salt and several grinds of black pepper, and use your hands to gently combine. Form the mixture into 6 oblong patties.
Return skillet to medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of butter and when melted and hot, fry 3 of the steaks until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes/side. Transfer steaks to a warm platter and fry the remaining steaks. Keep steaks warm while you make the gravy.
If there’s not much fat in the pan, add 1 Tbsp. of butter and when melted, add the mushrooms along with a generous pinch of salt. Saute the mushrooms, stirring up browned bits, until wilted and lightly browned.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch and beef broth together until there are no lumps, then slowly whisk the broth mixture into the mushrooms. Stir the gravy until hot, clear, and thickened. Add the remaining caramelized onions to the gravy. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Spoon hot gravy over steaks and serve immediately.
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