Simple, easy Salisbury steak

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Things have been stressful lately. I’ve been covering news people feel very strongly about and between my anxiety and the aggressive social media posts I’ve been seeing, I’ve actually checked more times than usual to make sure my door is locked when I’m home and that my tires haven’t been slashed.

If anyone tells you mental illness is all in your head and you should just “get over it,” feel free to screech like a pterodactyl and run away. It’ll scare the heck out of ‘em. Which will make you feel better.

Given the recent stress, I wanted comfort food that wouldn’t make a mess of my kitchen. Salisbury steak is not only easy to make, but cheap and can be done entirely in one skillet (if your skillet is deep enough). Roasted vegetable and potato sides can be done in one pan, so if you’re careful, you should be able to keep prep dishes to a minimum while making something worth relaxing into.

Start with a pound of ground beef. This makes four quarter-pound “steaks” (yes, I struggle calling this steak, but I will persevere). If you’re cooking for more, this recipe from The Suburban Soapbox is pretty easy to multiply.

Combine this with some bread crumbs, a little tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, onion powder, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Wash your hands or put on some gloves (preferably both) and mix this until it’s well combined, but not more. Overmixing ground meat can cause tough, rubbery patties for burgers and other dishes, so be gentle.

Set these aside unless your’re really fast at chopping onions and mushrooms (unless you bought your mushrooms pre-chopped like I did — what? They were on sale!).

Chop your onions and get your mushrooms prepped before putting the meat in the skillet to brown. They’ll only be in there until they’re brown on the outsides — three to four minutes — because once they’re back in the gravy later, they’ll continue to cook.

Once they’re brown, take them out, put them on a plate and set aside. Tell the dog that no, he can’t have them. Set them a little further aside.

Throw in your diced onion to cook until they’re translucent, then add your mushrooms. I added more mushrooms than the 4 oz. the recipe called for because this is my kitchen, my food and I love mushrooms like a Hobbit.

Add your fresh thyme (in a pinch, yes, use dried — Ina Garten isn’t watching you), garlic powder and flour and cook for about a minute. Then add the beef stock, slowly scraping the cooked-on brown bits stuck to the bottom. If you feel so inclined and have a little extra red wine in the fridge, deglaze the pan with a little of that if you want to. Just reduce the stock a little or add some cooking time. Add the worcestershire sauce and bring this all to a boil. When the gravy starts to thicken, throw in a little butter and salt and pepper. I'll confess, I didn't add salt and pepper here and the seasonings were fine. I don't like things very salty, but if you do, salt away.

As the butter melts, return the “steaks” to the pan with the gravy and cook for another five to seven minutes. The “steaks” absorb a bit of the gravy, pulling in some of that flavor as they cook through. I love me a good medium-rare steak, but any ground meat should be completely brown inside. The trick is to take the meat off the cooking surface when it’s almost done and let it finish cooking through as it rests.

All in all, this whole process took around half an hour, so it’s very doable for a weeknight dinner. Add a few sides and treat yourself to a little comfort food.

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