Salisbury steak turns boring ground beef into a gourmet meal. The recipe is quick and easy too. The meat is seasoned, shaped, and seared, then a delicious mushroom sauce is made all in the same pan.
Affordable comfort food packed with flavor
High-quality cuts of meat can get expensive, but this salisbury steak recipe creates a gourmet meal without blowing the budget or sacrificing on flavor. It just takes a few simple pantry ingredients to elevate the taste of ground beef. The formed patties are seared just like you would a steak and cooks just as fast.
The pan-fry method creates a flavorful, deep golden-brown crust that forms on each piece. To complement the protein, I saute onion and mushrooms in the butter to develop the base for an irresistible savory sauce. Serve this with creamy mashed potatoes and crisp vegetables, then generously spoon the gravy on top.
What is Salisbury steak?
Salisbury steak is ground beef combined with seasonings and binders to create oval patties. The meat cooks similar to traditional steaks by searing in a hot skillet until a flavorful crust forms. It has a meatloaf-like texture but portioned into individual servings, something that can’t be achieved when baked in the oven inside a loaf pan. The dish is served with a flavorful pan gravy.
Ground beef selection
There are a lot of different types of ground beef to choose from. I recommend a 90% lean product, which is typically the sirloin cut from the cow. This selection provides just the right combination of beefy flavor that has enough fat to keep the steak patties juicy.
Seasoning the beef
Unlike classic hamburgers that are very simply seasoned with salt and pepper, we can be a little more creative here. To make Salisbury steak more flavorful use soy sauce to boost the umami notes and enhance the beef’s natural savory taste.
Ensuring the meat stays together
To make sure the ground beef holds its characteristic steak-like appearance after cooking, I add breadcrumbs and eggs as binders. The bread creates a starchy panade, locking in the flavorful juices and preventing the meat from shrinking. The eggs add extra fat from the yolk to keep the meat moist, while the albumin in the egg whites set and help to keep the oval shape.
Gently mix and chill the patties before cooking
It’s important not to overwork the meat mixture for Salisbury steak patties. The more you mix it, the tighter the beef will contract during cooking, making for tougher bites. After you form the ½-inch thick oval patties, chill them before cooking. This technique helps to solidify the fat after mixing and helps to further hold the shape when cooking in the hot pan.
Searing the steaks
The patties cook over medium-high heat. I like to use a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan for searing. The nonstick material reduces the chance of clinging, but I enjoy a slightly thicker crust texture that’s created by cast iron since it retains heat so well.
When the beef hits the hot olive oil in the pan, it quickly changes from a soft mushy surface to a crisp crust that takes on rich brown colors. The Maillard browning reaction gives that sought-out seared surface just like fancier cuts, without paying the higher price tag.
Make a tasty mushroom sauce in the same pan
After the patties cook, it’s time to make a sauce loaded with depth and flavor. To complement the savory dish, I reach for ingredients loaded with glutamates like thick-sliced brown mushrooms, beef stock, and tomato paste.
Saute them with aromatic alliums like onions and garlic. To change the one-dimensional sauce, a splash of balsamic vinegar adds acidity and aged notes that brighten up the taste. To finish the sauce, I use all-purpose flour to thicken the consistency so that it better clings to the meat like a gravy.
Tasty side dishes to serve this with
Cook to a safe temperature
Typically for ground beef products like burgers, you can cook them to as low as medium-rare doneness. However, since the patties contain eggs, it’s best to cook them between 144 and 158°F (62 to 70ºC), taking into account carryover cooking. This will make it that there’s no pink in the center, but it ensures that the harmful bacteria in the raw egg is destroyed.
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- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion, ¼-inch thick
- 12 ounces brown mushrooms, ½-inch thick slices
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 2 teaspoon chopped parsley
- In a medium bowl gently mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and soy sauce until just combined, do not overmix.
- Divide the beef mixture into 4 even mounds. Form into ½-inch thick oval patties, about 5-inches long and 2 ½-inches wide. Cover and chill the patties in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Cut the onion into ¼-inch thick slices. Cut the mushrooms into ¼-inch thick slices. Mince the garlic. Set aside to use for the sauce.
- Heat olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the beef patties.
- Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and reduce the heat down to medium. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 to 145ºF (60 to 63ºC) for medium-well, or 150 to 155ºF (65 to 68ºC) for well-done, about 3 to 5 minutes. There will be some carryover cooking of the meat after resting. Transfer to a clean plate.
- Carefully wipe the pan clean or keep the drippings for a more flavorful sauce. Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Once melted add the onions. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms are tender, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato paste and flour, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir and cook for 15 seconds. Slowly pour in the beef stock, stir and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Place the steaks back in the pan, turning to coat in the sauce to warm.
- Garnish with parsley.
- For a softer texture similar to meatballs, use 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.
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