Sunday (10/30) Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Fried Potato Skins
Monday (10/31) Prosciutto, Endive and Stilton Salad
Tuesday (11/1) Spicy Weeknight Ragu
Wednesday (11/2) Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Red Pepper Flatbread
Thursday (11/3) Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
Friday (11;4) Salade Nicoise
Saturday (11/5) Mushroom Pizza
Note regarding my absence: I logged myself out of Word Press and could not get back on until Andrew returned from New York and worked his technical magic on a recalcitrant internet or, as I like to call it, The Interweb. So, you’ll notice the dinners are from a while back – we’ll catch up next week.
Suggestion: At the bottom of this post, below the recipe, you will find an astonishing picture – four dogs all looking into the camera at the same time as if they were barmaids in Hollywood hoping to make it into the movies.
Another Blast from the Past
You may have noticed that I’m into nostalgia and the food of my youth these days. And why not? Do you really need or want another recipe for lentils, farro or tofu?
The recipe below is for a dish that I don’t remember my mother ever cooking but that I remember from cafeterias in the army and college. (Of Central Catholic High School’s cafeteria back in my time, I have done my best to forget – think of food you would walk away from even if you were very hungry and then think of something stomach-turningly worse.)
Speaking of stomachs, the recipe for Salisbury Steak was devised by an M.D and recommended for curing indigestion. But first, let’s back up a bit and talk a little food history:
In the last half of the eighteenth and the first decade of the nineteenth century, a lot of people came from Germany to America, often sailing from Hamburg. These immigrants brought their tastes and flavorings with them, so that restaurants in New York offered Hamburg-Style American fillet.
Enter James Salisbury, an American physician and chemist known for his advocacy of a meat-centered diet (God bless him). It was his recipe, or variations thereof, based on German taste, that became known as Salisbury Steak in America. The steak used was ground meat which was gussied up with Worcestershire and mustard and spices from the Old Country. And, in spite of its humble status – based on ground beef and served in cafeterias – I have always loved the savoriness* of this modified hamburger.
*That’s umami to those of you who cook a lot of tofu.
Salisbury recommended that the beef should be procured from a “well-fatted animal”. Well, I’m a pretty well-fatted animal and I’m thinking that Dr. Salisbury should be the official doctor of “What We Cooked Last Week”.
By the way, there are lots of “Salisbury Steaks” on offer in the frozen food section of your market – please don’t use them. Aside from the preservatives and low-grade beef scraps that you’ll avoid, you will also save money and gain character from making your own Salisbury Steak from scratch.
(adapted from NYT Magazine – Eric Kim)
Timing: 50 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4 plus
For the Steak
Large Yellow Onion
4 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
4 ½ tablespoons ketchup
1 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 ½ large egg
1 ½ lb. ground beef
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
Olive Oil for searing
Salt and Black Pepper
For the Sauce
12 ounces cremini mushrooms
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cup beef stock
¾ cup whole milk
Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and brown sugar for seasoning, if you like
Finely chopped chives for serving
Measure out milk and beef stock.
Grate ¼ of the onion into a medium bowl (about 3/8 cup of pulp) – set rest of onion aside for the gravy.
Add to the bowl the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and egg, then season generously with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
Now add the ground beef and panko and with a spoon or fork, without overmixing, gently stir the mixture to combine.
Form mixture into 12 small oval shaped patties about 1 inch thick, place on a plate and put into the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
While beef is firming, prepare the gravy:
Finely dice remaining onion, clean and thinly slice the mushrooms.
Cook the Steak:
Heat large skillet over medium and add oil to lightly coat bottom. Remove patties from the freezer and add them to the hot oil and cook until browned – 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
To the same skillet, add the mushrooms and onion and season with salt. Raise the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, but not burned – about 9 minutes. Note: The vegetables will release water which will cook off before they can brown – take your time with this. Add more oil if the pan looks too dry.
Now sprinkle the flour over the mixture and cook, stirring until there are no more streaks of white from the flour – less than a minute.
Stir in the beef stock and milk and season generously with salt and pepper and bring to simmer over medium high. Taste sauce and season if needed with a little Worcestershire if you want more savoriness, a little ketchup if you want more tang, or a punch of brown sugar for more sweetness.
Now add the seared steaks to the gravy, reduce the heat but continue simmering, basting the steaks a few times, until the gravy is thicker (reduced) to your liking – maybe 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with rice or mashed potatoes and sprinkle with chives if you have them. Note: This was superb with mashed potatoes, and took me back to the dining halls of my first year in college.