Just in case you thought I may still be in Greece, allow me to ensure you I am back on the American side of the Atlantic, here in Toronto, Canada…feels good to be back! I left for Greece on August 2nd and spent 48 days there and traveled using planes, trains, automobiles, vespas, on foot, boat. Over 5,000 photos were taken, made some new friends, met with family and old friends and enjoyed some wonderful food along the way. Each and everytime I go to Greece I am surprised by the dishes Greeks come up with and yes, there are still some traditional dishes still to be discovered in this small but very rich and diverse country.
There will be plenty of time to share my experiences in Greece this past summer but today’s post focuses on one of the food memories I had as a child living here in Canada – Salisbury Steak. Salisbury steak was (and still is) found at supermarkets in the frozen section of your supermarket. Look for “TV Dinners”, something created in the flurry of convenient foods created in the 50’s for the busy American (and Canadian) who were glued to their TV sets. TV dinners were the answer to the many who were glued to 50’s television and thus being ensured to not miss a program.
Back then TV dinners were simply warmed up in the oven and later the microwave took over the task of warming up these mediocre (at best) meals. My memory of the Salisbury steak comes from eating at my Dad’s restaurant which catered then (70’s & 80’s) to a mainly WASP population here in east Toronto. Salisbury steak was one of the regular offerings at my Dad’s restaurant and it one I enjoyed very much: a seasoned hamburger that was grilled or fried then served with a deep brown gravy, mashed potatoes and some sort of vegetable side (mixed vegetables, green beans or corn).
This is the Salisbury steak I remember and boy I did love it! People back then could eat meals made from scratch and at this restaurant one could get some of the best Prime Rib along with jus and a gravy made from a stock of roasted beef bones. How about some fries with real gravy or…Salisbury steak? My version of Salisbury steak is quick, ideal for prepping on a weeknight and as usual, I add my own touches to this retro-dish. I’ve added some wine to give the sauce some more body, there’s mushrooms in the mix and I’ve added some crispy fried onions for garnish. Maybe I’m craving those onion rings my Dad’s restaurant???
For the Salisbury Steak
1lb. lean ground beef
1 clove of garlic
2-3 Tbsp. of French Onion Soup mix
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2-3 slices of white (or wholewheat) bread, soaked lightly in milk or water
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. of ketchup
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
flour for dredging
oil for frying
For the Mushroom Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of Cremini (or button) mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
crispy onions for garnish
- In a large bowl, add your slice bread plus 2 Tbsp. of the soup mix, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix the ingredients with your hands until they are amalgamated.
- Now add your ground beef, minced garlic and large egg and mix well with your hands. Form into a small meatball, cook it off and taste. Adjust seasoning, add more soup mix if needed. Form into uniform, round patties or use a round mold to form into the perfect patty.
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add a couple of turns of olive oil then place the patties in the skillet and brown on both sides then reserve on a plate ( fry in batches if the skillet isn’t big enough). In the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil, the diced onions, garlic and mushroom and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Simmer until veggies have softened while stirring for 4-5 minutes then add the flour and stir in for about a minute then add the wine, stock and thyme leaves and gently bring back to a boil. Add the beef patties back into the pan, cover and simmer (medium heat) for about 15 minutes. Take cover off and taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Continue to simmer uncovered until your sauce has thickened to your desired consistency then take off the heat. Serve your Salisbury steaks with mashed potatoes, choice of vegetables and spoon some gravy on the patties and the mashed potatoes and some of the crispy onions for garnish.
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