Salisbury steak – a humble yet delicious dish of interesting origins that is a classic of the meat and potatoes American diner, Citizens! This is a dish made from a blend of ground beef and other ingredients, which is shaped to resemble a steak, and is usually served with gravy or brown sauce.
Dr. James Salisbury (1823–1905), an American physician and chemist, advocated for a meat-centered diet to promote health, and the term Salisbury steak has been used in the United States since 1897.
Dr. Salisbury recommended this recipe (somewhat different from modern Salisbury steak recipes) for the treatment of alimentation (digestive problems):
“Eat the muscle pulp of lean beef made into cakes and broiled. This pulp should be as free as possible from connective or glue tissue, fat and cartilage…previous to chopping, the fat, bones, tendons and fasciae should all be cut away, and the lean muscle cut up in pieces an inch or two square. Steaks cut through the centre of the round are the richest and best for this purpose. Beef should be procured from well fatted animals that are from four to six years old. The pulp should not be pressed too firmly together before broiling, or it will taste livery. Simply press it sufficiently to hold it together. Make the cakes from half an inch to an inch thick. Broil slowly and moderately well over a fire free from blaze and smoke. When cooked, put it on a hot plate and season to taste with butter, pepper, salt; also use either Worcestershire or Halford sauce, mustard, horseradish or lemon juice on the meat if desired. Celery may be moderately used as a relish.”
Salisbury steak remains popular in the United States, where it is traditionally served with gravy and mashed potatoes or pasta.
While many of us know this dish from its infamous popularity in school lunches or “TV dinners”, making an appearance as a meat “hockey puck” (with a similar consistency, I might add) mercifully hidden under a pallid and insipid gravy, the true Salisbury steak is a thing of savor and true culinary excellence.
I shall put you on the true path, Citizens – try my recipe and I promise, you and your family will be hooked for life! 🙂
Battle on, The Generalissimo
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