I consider this dish an exercise in trying to shed a childhood nightmare. When I attended Hamden Hall Country Day School, Salisbury Steak was on the hot lunch rotation — meaning I would see it at least once a month (and this was in the day when there was only one option presented on a daily basis for the hot lunch program). And from my perspective everything was wrong about the dish… its appearance on the plate (a brown lump covered in a vile looking brown sauce), its smell and taste? Honestly? I could never make it past the appearance! Granted, that may have been a function of the recipe regardless of who prepared it. Was it prepared in the kitchen or in the bathroom? Even today, in drawing up a memory from my distant past, I gag at the very thought of seeing that lunch!
Time to beat back the demon! OK, so Salisbury “Steak” is essentially a ramped-up burger served with an onion/mushroom brown gravy. And when I look at that dispassionately, it has all the makings of a “comfort food dish” perfect to enjoy on a cold and damp winter Sunday. Add to that, this recipe calls for using a slow-cooker! Prep before noon, watch the football game, ready at dinner time! Serve it with classic sides of peas and mashed potatoes, open up a bottle of “bistro” red and I’m giving it a go!
To the wine choice! First, in general I love wines from the Southern Rhône for good home cookin’. And second, in this instance, we’re looking at a killer vintage (2015) for the major winemaking regions of Western Europe. And what is great about a broad vintage success? The weather pattern responsible for the greatness is democratic… meaning, it had an impact on the modest properties as well as the apex estates. Meaning? Drink modest, and drink well!
Domaine la Bouvade Côtes du Rhône-Villages ’15 (Rousset-les-Vignes, Southern Rhône)
This is a delicious Côtes du Rhone-Villages from 40 to 45 year old vines. Rich and gushing with fruit. Rousset-les-Vignes is located between Nyons and Valréas. This little village is a pure gem, overhanging the Rhône Valley, with a magnificent surrounding landscape of garrigues, vines, orchards and fields of lavenders! This little paradise, thanks to its various terraced and sloped terroirs of shingles, limestone-clay and siliceous schist, provides perfect vine growing conditions. The 2015 has a nice deep, brilliant velvet color. Round, ample and soft nose of ripe black fruits and spices. Very elegant and balanced, the palate delivers the aromas with bunches of red and black fruits, while being extremely fresh, clean and juicy, with light touches of pepper… just to remind of the Rhône and South origin! Fresh and juicy length. A pure pleasure at the best possible value!
Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
1½ lbs ground beef
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 small sliced onion
6 oz sliced mushrooms
1½ cups beef broth
1 package brown gravy mix
1 tbs ketchup
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs corn starch
- Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
- Mix ground beef, minced onion, bread crumbs, garlic, egg, salt and pepper together in a good sized bowl. Form into desired sized patties (5 or 6, depending on preference). Brown patties in skillet.
- In slow cooker, create a bed of sliced onions & sliced mushrooms on the bottom. Place the browned patties on top.
- In a bowl mix beef broth, gravy mix, ketchup & mustard and pour over the patties and veggies.
- Cook on low for 5 hours.
- Remove patties to a platter. Transfer the sauce to a skillet, whisk in the corn starch over medium-high heat, mix and let cook ‘til it sauce thickens. Return patties back to coat with sauce before serving.
- Go to town.
n.b. Other wine choices: always “regional” Italy always works: Barbera, Aglianico, Nero d’Avola, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo & Morelino di Scansano. Pinotage from South Africa. Bonarda from Argentina.