Salisbury steak has been around for more than 100 years, but the savory dish catapulted to an American favorite when TV dinners were introduced in the early 1950s. Today, that throwback meal of hamburger patties and gravy remains a quick and easy main course for the busy home chef.
Origins of Salisbury Steak
More than a half century before Salisbury steak became an American comfort food, it was considered a health food. Physician James H. Salisbury created the dish in 1897, believing that it would be good for those suffering from such maladies as anemia, tuberculosis, gout and asthma. He believed that too many vegetables, fruits and starchy foods caused heart disease, tumors and mental illness. Salisbury’s steak was created with the same basic ingredient still used in the dish -- hamburger.
Creating the Comfort Food
It's perfectly acceptable to use store-bought hamburger patties for Salisbury steak, particularly if you’re not a fan of spices or your busy schedule demands a quick meal. Traditional Salisbury steak is made by mixing bread crumbs, Worcestershire, ketchup, dry mustard, egg, diced onion, salt and pepper with the hamburger. The burger is then shaped into thick, oval patties. Fry the hamburger patties in butter or olive oil until they are no longer pink in the middle. Remove the patties and drain the grease. Make a pan gravy in the same skillet or return the patties to the pan and top them with prepared brown gravy.
Types of Ground Beef
From ground beef to ground sirloin, consumers in today’s health-conscious world have options when it comes to choosing the type of beef to use for Salisbury steak. All hamburger contains fat and the types of ground beef are labeled according to the percentage of fat. To stay true to Salisbury’s vision, the less fat, the better. The most expensive type of ground beef, ground sirloin contains less than 10 percent fat. The fat content in ground round is 10 to 15 percent. Ground chuck is 15 to 20 percent fat, while the relatively inexpensive, traditional ground beef contains 25 to 30 percent fat.
Other Types of Beef
Although Salisbury steak is traditionally made with bulk hamburger or pre-formed hamburger patties, those who desire a twist on the old favorite can swap the burger for cubed steak or even round steak. If you prefer to forgo the gravy, you can always opt for Salisbury’s suggestion that his steak be enhanced with butter, mustard, horseradish or lemon juice.