Salisbury Steak

salisbury steak (3)When I was a young Air Force Russian language student at Indiana University more than a half-century ago, I enjoyed visiting a restaurant called The Gables that, besides being on the site of the former Book Nook where Hoagy Carmichael claimed to have written “Stardust,” served a delicious Salisbury steak at a price consistent with my $100 a month airman’s pay. At this remove I can honestly say that I do not remember what it tasted like but I have had a soft spot for Salisbury steak ever since. The dish itself was invented in 1888 by Dr. J. H. Salisbury, a physician from Cortland County NY, between Binghamton and Syracuse, who was an early promoter of a low carbohydrate diet—in fact he recommended eating his steak three times a day. During the World War I mania to remove German names from common items, hamburger steak was often called Salisbury steak. Today, while the US Department of Agriculture mandates that hamburger steak be made of 100% skeletal beef, i.e. no organ meat. Commercially prepared Salisbury steak may by law contain up to 25% pork, beef heart, and up to 30% fat. This last, if nothing else, should convince you of the wisdom of making it from scratch.

Note: to make this recipe gluten-free use corn flakes pulverized in the food processor in place of bread crumbs and rice flour instead of wheat flour. The mushrooms are optional and can be simply left out.



1 medium, divided use


6 medium


1 or 2 large cloves

Butter and/or oil

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons), divided use

Ground beef

340 grams (12 ounces)

Egg, lightly beaten

1 large

Worcestershire sauce

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons), or to taste

Bread crumbs

30 grams (¼ cup)

Parsley, fresh or dried

15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon)

Salt and pepper

to taste


8 grams (1 Tablespoon)

Beef stock

about 250 milliliters (1 cup)

Thyme, fresh or dried

2 milliliters (¼ teaspoon)


Peel the onion and cut into two pieces through the root. Thinly slice one half and set aside. Coarsely chop the other half and put into a food processor. Separate the mushroom stems from the caps. Slice the caps thinly and set aside. Add the stems and the garlic to the onion in the food processor and mince finely. Sauté the mince in a small amount of butter until the onions are translucent. Set aside to cool.

Combine the ground beef with the cooled onion mixture, egg, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, and parsley. (I use my stand mixer with the flat beater, first beating the egg on medium speed then adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing on the lowest speed setting.) Form the mixture into two oblong rolls about the size and shape of a baking potato then flatten them into patties about 1 centimeter (½ inch) thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat about 15 grams (1 Tablespoon) of butter or oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties for about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil and keep warm while you prepare the gravy.

Reheat the skillet over medium heat, adjust the fat to about 15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon), and sauté the sliced onions until softened. Add the sliced mushroom caps and sauté until lightly browned. Sprinkle on the flour and cook for about minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add the stock a bit at a time stirring constantly. Be sure to let each addition come to a boil before adding the next otherwise you will not know just how think the gravy is becoming. Keep adding stock until the gravy is the consistency you like. (You can use water if you run out of stock.) Stir in the dried thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve the steaks with mashed potatoes and the gravy, accompanied by a green salad or vegetable.


One response to “Salisbury Steak

  1. SharonGoldstein August 21, 2016 at 15:37

    And a wonderful dish for those of us on a budgetary diet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: