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Retro dinner gets modern makeover

Salisbury steak has been a favorite dinner in my family for decades. It’s such an old school, comforting meal from back in the day.

When I was a kid, it was a special occasion for me to get a TV dinner — like those rare times when my folks went out and I had a babysitter. Do you remember the ones in the aluminum pans with the individual compartments for each food? At 8 years old it was so exciting. A whole little meal, all for myself. My favorite was the Salisbury steak dinner with mashed potatoes that had a yellow square of what we can only assume was a pat of butter, peas and perfectly square carrots and the upper center compartment had a blissful chocolate brownie. Oh joy!

Kids today just don’t understand the excitement. (Boy, I sound ancient. Get off my lawn!) Now everything is frozen and zapped in the microwave.

I revisited the classic and updated the recipe, but the essence remains. Most recipes from back in the day called for a can of this and a packet of that. This recipe is made simply from scratch and the difference is glorious. This lip-smacking savory, beefy delight is even better when it’s homemade.

CLASSIC SALISBURY STEAK WITH MUSHROOM GRAVY

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes to an hour

What you’ll need:

1 onion, half minced, half sliced into rings

1½ tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, divided

1½ pounds ground beef (85/15, you want these juicy)

¼ cup breadcrumbs or crushed crackers

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 14.5-ounce can beef broth, low sodium

1 tablespoon cold water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Here’s how:

Start with the onion. To clarify: cut the onion in half. You’ll finely mince one half and thinly slice the remaining half into thin rings or half-moons depending on which direction you sliced the onion.

(If you’re serving mashed potatoes, start them now or they won’t be ready when the Salisbury steaks are done.)

Now, heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. When it’s heated, add ½ tablespoon oil and sauté the minced half of the onion until softened. Keep your eye on this while you move on to the next step.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, horseradish, half tablespoon Worcestershire and a little salt and pepper. Add the softened onions from the skillet then reduce the heat on the skillet while you mix. Combine these ingredients. Divide this mixture into four portions and form oval-shaped patties about ½-inch thick.

Return your skillet to medium-high heat and add another ½ tablespoon oil. Place the patties into the skillet and cook about 4 minutes per side, flipping once. Set aside and keep warm.

In the same skillet, sauté the rings of onion and mushrooms until soft and golden brown. Remove the onions and mushrooms and set aside. Add the broth and using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir, scraping up all the lovely browned bits. Mix the cold water and cornstarch together until very smooth (no lumps) and pour into the broth. Bring to a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened.

Add the remaining ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Return the patties, onions and mushrooms back to the pan and give it a stir to coat. Let this simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors develop.

Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. If we made brownies for dessert, my inner child would think I’d died and gone to heaven.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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