Not Your Lunch Lady's Salisbury Steak





Introduction: Not Your Lunch Lady's Salisbury Steak

About: I'll try to fix or build anything.

Salisbury steak is a classic disappointment of American easy cuisine, served on plastic lunchroom trays and from frozen food boxes from sea to shining sea. It's usually accompanied by a semi-clear sauce that pretends to have something to do with beef by being brown. The meat, according to wikipedia, must be 65% meat by USDA standards. The rest can be fat and vegetable or grain fillers and binders like egg. It drastically needs a makeover.

This recipe an evolved version of Alton Brown's Salisbury steak recipe in his book I'm Just Here For The Food. That version calls for cubed steak, but I never really cared the way the meat turned out in it. This recipe uses a more traditional hamburger (with nothing mixed in), but you could easily substitute your favorite steak or even your favorite meatloaf mix. Chicken breasts also work very well with this sauce.

Step 1: Chop Stuff

Medium Onion (sliced into strips -- lyonnaise cut)

Shiitake Mushrooms (about five large ones, sliced) you can use any other type, but shiitakes are super meaty tasting

Garlic (1 tablespoon minced)

That's it. That's all of the cutting you'll have to do in this recipe. Herbs added later can be omitted, added whole, or torn.

Step 2: Meat

1 lb of ground beef (cut the package in half and mash them down into "steaks")

I season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Sprinkle it over until it looks well coated. I go a little heavier with the onion powder when making this. It's just nice.

Step 3: Cooking the Beef

Heat a nonstick skillet on the stove on high, then reduce to medium and add a little olive oil or whatever you have. You're cooking these just like a skillet hamburger, but I tend to just get a sear on both sides and not worry about doneness at this point. Once browned remove them to a plate and let them sit while you move on to the sauce. You can bring your beef to your desired doneness in the simmering sauce. Retain some of the rendered fat for the next step.

Step 4: Saute & Sauce

Add your mushroom and onions to the medium heated pan and hit it with some salt. Saute until the onions and mushrooms are softened.

Add the garlic and cook a minute.

Dump in 3/4 to 1 cup of wine and reduce it. Concentrate that stuff to the point of being nearly dry. Sauces are all about concentrating flavor by reduction.

Once at this point add 1 to 1.5 cup of stock (I usually only keep chicken stock on hand and use it for everything calling for stock---you'll never know it's chicken stock in the end).

Add a tablespoon of worchestershire sauce and 1 or 2 tsp of dijon mustard and mix in. You can mix it with the stock before adding to the pan if you like.

And of course, reduce this liquid. If you want it thicker you can add a little starch (corn, arrowroot, potato, flour).

Add in some thyme sprigs if you like.

Step 5: Reintroduce the Beef

Once you've gotten the sauce up to a simmer and reduced a bit, put the beef back in and cook until it's done to your liking and the sauce is thickened how you like it.

Step 6: Enhancements

You can add all kinds of herbs at the end and dress up the dish with other greens. I have some shallots growing very well so I've been using their "chives" in everything. I also have a load of arugula springing up. I like putting that on top or on the side of meat dishes. It's peppery good stuff. Watercress would be another fine peppery accent to add.

If when you've completed the dish and you find that the sauce is a bit flat, make sure it's got enough salt. If it's still lackluster add some acid. Lemon or lime juice, few drops of wine, or wine vinegar. I always reach for sherry vinegar. Its some excellent schtuff.

But lucky for us all this sauce doesn't usually need adjusting and this time was fine without any acid additions.

Step 7: Eat

What's Salisbury steak without some super buttery mashed potatoes? Throw a steak on top to let the juices and sauce flow into those potatoes and dress up with some herbs and whatever lettuce or green you have. A little extra sauce on the plate is mandatory. Eat up.



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    12 Discussions

    Hahaha very well done. I don't usually enjoy a recipe! Like someone has already said, its not just funny, its clear and easy to follow. Write a cookbook!

    Haha, very Alton Brown-esque jokes... you didn't...steal them, DID YOU? (See what I did there?) Very nicely done Instructable! And I never thought to use half the ground beef patty like that, I have always gotten the pre-made cube steak... I will have to try this soon!

    1 reply

    High compliments! Thanks. Steal them? If so, it was subconscious. I haven't watched good eats in years. Give it a shot! It's worth it.

    I gotta say dlewisa, I love this instructable! It's really well made with a few jokes here and there and it's really easy to follow. I gotta give you points for appearance and the general layout of the entire thing, it flows nice, is clear and to the point, and is detailed enough to make. On top of that that Salisbury Steak looks so delicious, not to mention those (are they homegrown?) herbs. Well done!

    1 reply

    Wow! Thanks. Yes, those herbs are homegrown. Everyone should do that. Lettuce and herbs practically need no care. Thanks again!

    This looks realy good. It's my week to cook, so I'm going to try it. Love your humorous prose and captions, too!

    1 reply

    The one at (I hate to admit this) Perkin's was truly yummy, then they stopped serving it , right after I discovered it :-( I will need to give your's a whirl. I went to a catholic HS in NYC and we had the worst food ever, much worse then the sweaty balogna sandwiches of Public school and Rikers Island. I made a guy toss his lunch after 1 look I said"starving people in China are throwing that away". He never got the hot lunch again.....can't figure why!

    So I think this may do just nicely, reduced whine and onion au jus mmmmm oooh yeah


    Hahaha "Salisbury steak is a classic disappointment of American easy cuisine, served on plastic lunchroom trays and from frozen food boxes from sea to shining sea." You said it all right there! I remember growing up eating Salisbury steak every other week or so for lunch. Great memories! I guess as a kid I didn't really think of what it actually was. Your's looks much tastier!

    1 reply

    I remember having one that was nothing but a patty frozen in a brown sauce and you just nuked the whole thing and it was ready to go. I recall liking it. Kids will eat anything.

    Sadly, no. But there are mashed potatoes left. Probably need a potato cake or croquette later. Or a warmed up bowl with extra butter.