When we decided I would stay home with the kids, I soon realized that simple domestic chores were not enough to keep my busy brain occupied. Not that those chores didn’t demand my full-time attention, but ADHD is a relentless companion. Without constantly learning and doing, depression can creep in, especially when you are a post-menopausal adult woman (yes, it happened early)…SQUIRREL!!!
Um, okay, so thanks to the magic of the internet I’ve been able to learn a lot. Plus, when your husband is gone for two weeks at a time and you’re watching your pennies, it pays to learn to install a new toilet, faucet, sink, etc. yourself. When I ran out of renovations at the old house, I turned my full attention to trying new things in the kitchen. The day my youngest asked for the “gravy hamburgers” they served at school, I set my sights on learning to make Salisbury Steak.
I’ll be honest, I’m nursing some nausea due to the antibiotics I’m on for a sinus infection, so the thought of Salisbury Steak makes my stomach turn, but only for a second. It’s one of those foods that takes me back to the school cafeterias of my youth, staring at a nasty looking, gelatinous gravy, smothering a flattened, unidentifiable meat puck. Inside my heart would leap, pretending to hate on the outside, but rejoicing on the inside. I admit it was a guilty pleasure and I went decades without, but I will no longer deny that I love it. I hope your family does too, so without further ado…
First, let’s talk seasoning. You will see “Tony’s” in many of my recipes. Tony Chachere’s (pronounced ‘”sash-er-ees in the Cajun way to thwart true French pronunciation on certain words) is a Creole seasoning available in grocery stores throughout the country now, or online. It’s a blend of many different herbs, salt and pepper, but is also available in a salt-free version. We use it on everything because it is amazing; no real heat to it, but it starts a party in your mouth immediately. You will never be able to eat pizza without it again. You’ve been warned.
I’ve also grown rather fond of roasted garlic salt when I don’t have time to roast my own garlic, or I’m simply feeling lazy and this one is quite good.
Salisbury Steak with Creamy Mushroom Gravy*
2 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP crumbled Ritz, or similar crackers
1 tsp salt, or less, if you’re not a fan
1 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
4 TBSP minced onion
1 tsp poultry seasoning, divided in half
6 TBSP butter
8-16 ounces of canned mushrooms, with the liquid (depending on your feelings for mushrooms, you can replace with 1/4 cup milk or water, if need be.)
6 TBSP all-purpose flour
6 Beef Bullion cubes (yes, that’s a lot. Sodium intake for today is taken care of, but I suppose you could hold back a few)
6 cups of milk
1 tsp Tony’s (If you don’t have any, do not fret. The flavor will not suffer)
Garlic salt to taste
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, cracker crumbs, onion, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of the poultry seasoning. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to throw in a dash of the Tony’s and roasted garlic salt, if available, at this point. Mix with your hands until ingredients are combined without overworking the meat. Shape the patties, usually 6-8, keeping them around half an inch, but no more than 1 inch thick.
Place the patties in a large skillet and cook them over medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them, usually 4-6 minutes per side, turning until they are browned and cooked through to your taste. Do not press the patties flat while cooking, as this robs them of their flavor and can make ground beef taste dry. Drain the grease and place the patties on a plate, making sure to keep them warm.
In the same skillet, melt your butter and then add the mushrooms with liquid. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes and then sprinkle the flour in, mixing until no lumps appear. Add the bullion cubes, remaining 1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning, Tony’s, a dash of the garlic salt and slowly, the milk (you can add a bit less if you like a thicker gravy). Cook and stir over medium heat until the gravy is smooth and starts to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste and then return the patties to the gravy, cooking on low heat, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve over egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.
*You can cut the gravy in half if you want the meat to stand alone, but living in Louisiana makes us gravy folk. I do however recommend the egg noodles since they are lighter. We like our gravy rather thick and it hugs the noodles quite nicely!