Dr. Salisbury, I Presume?

One of my beloved’s favorite meals is Salisbury steak. In fact, once he’s heard this song in praise of this classic American dish, I imagine he’ll start singing it whenever he gets a hankering for some 😉  :

(Go on, give it a listen. You know you want to, and it’ll only take a minute.)

Salisbury steak was “invented” by James Henry Salisbury, MD. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Salisbury):

Salisbury was one of the earliest health food faddists and taught that diet was the main determinant of health. He believed vegetables and starchy foods produced poisonous substances in the digestive system which were responsible for heart disease, tumors, mental illness and tuberculosis. He believed that human dentition demonstrated that humans were meant to eat meat, and sought to limit vegetables, fruit, starches, and fats to one-third of the diet.

The Salisbury steak, his means of achieving this goal, is ground beef flavored with onion and seasoning and then deep-fried or boiled, and was introduced in 1888. Salisbury believed that beef was excellent defense against many different physical problems. He suggested that Salisbury steak should be eaten three times a day, with lots of water to cleanse the digestive system.

While I don’t agree with Dr. Salisbury’s philosophy that all vegetables, fruits, starches, and fats are bad, I do admire his interest in diet and its relationship with health.

I have always made my Salisbury steak (which I serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles, of course!) with lean (93/7 or 96/4) ground beef — and peoples, let me tell you, it is good. 🙂

However, hubby is having a hankering for Salisbury steak for supper tonight — and it will go perfectly with the leftover rolls we have — but as we’ve eaten quite a bit of lean beef lately, I thought now might be the time for me to try making Salisbury steak from lean (93/7) ground turkey.

While I’ve found that ground turkey — which is usually more affordable than lean ground beef — can substitute quite successfully for beef in many dishes, most especially spicy TexMex and Italian-inspired meals, there are usually some changes that I need to make in going from beef to turkey so that we feel satisfied with the taste, texture, and flavor.

Whenever I make a dish that I’ve traditionally made with beef, my goal is always that we say “Oh, that tastes yummy!” as opposed to “Oh, it’s made with turkey, is it? It’s tasty enough, I suppose, but I certainly prefer it made with beef.”

So, here is my attempt at making Salisbury steak with turkey instead of the more traditional beef — and we’ll have it with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, a green veg (most likely green beans), and, of course, the last of the baked homemade mini-loaves. 🙂

In approaching Turkey Salisbury steak, I’ve altered some of the seasonings from when I make it with beef, and I’ve added some finely diced celery, onion,  and mushroom to the meat to help boost the flavor and texture to more what we expect when we eat Salisbury steak.

Turkey Salisbury Steak (makes 4 servings, easy enough to adjust up or down)

  • 1 to 1.25 pounds lean (93/7) ground turkey
  • 1 egg (or equivalent in egg substitute)
  • Bread crumbs as needed to help hold mixture together
  • 1 stalk celery (1/8 to 1/4 cup), finely chopped or whizzed up in a food processor
  • 1/8 of a medium to large onion, finely chopped or whizzed up in a food processor
  • One or two fresh mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped or whizzed up in a food processor, or a few slices of jarred/canned mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
  • Splash or two of Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • Splash of wine (dry red or white), if desired for flavor and moisture, OR a splash of milk, if needed for moisture
  • Seasonings to taste: coarse ground black pepper, parsley (dried is fine), garlic powder and/or minced garlic, and sage
  • Sliced mushrooms (fresh or jarred/canned), optional
  • Sliced onion (1/4 to 1/2 onion), optional
  • Turkey gravy mix  (see note below) OR chicken broth/stock (I prefer reduced sodium)
  • If making your own gravy, 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour mixed with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water until smooth (I just shake mine all up in a jar that I use for just this purpose)
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly beat egg.
  2. I’m running low on bread crumbs, so I’ve whizzed up one slice of wheat sandwich bread in my little food processor and am adding it in with the egg. Otherwise, add in some dry bread crumbs or finely crushed cracker crumbs (start with just a bit; you can add in more as needed, if necessary).
  3. Add in finely chopped celery, onion, mushroom (if using), Worcestershire, and seasonings to taste. Stir together, then add in a splash or two of wine, if desired (I’m using some red wine, a Shiraz, ’cause that’s what I’ve got on hand). Mix together with a fork.
  4. TIP: Be careful with the bread crumbs and with the liquid — to0 much, and you’ve got a bread crumb patty held together by meat as opposed to the other way around. It really doesn’t take very much in the way of bread crumbs so long as you don’t go overboard with the liquids. Start with a splash and add more as needed. Remember — you can always add more, but you can’t take it back out.
  5. At this point, I like to smell the mixture and see if the seasoning mixture is smelling tasty. If not, I’ll make a few adjustments.
  6. Gently mix in the ground turkey (with a fork or with your hands — I always wear disposable gloves when I’m mixing or shaping raw meat — makes cleaning up my hands afterwards ever so much easier).
  7. Once again, I smell of the mixture and test the texture. Adjust the seasonings — including adding in some more bread crumbs and/or another splash of liquid, if need be — until you feel it can be shaped into a patty. EDITED TO ADD: I added one more slice of wheat bread, whizzed up in my little food processor.
  8. Divide mixture into equal portions and make four oval (if you’re a traditionalist!) or round patties, about 1/3″ to 1/2″ or so thick.
  9. Heat a large (12″ or so) non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. (I like to lightly rub some oil over my skillet surface to “season” it, but you could also use some cooking spray or add a  bit of Canola or olive oil). Place patties in hot skillet, sprinkle with some more coarse ground pepper, if desired, and cook patties until browned on one side (about 5 minutes), then turn and brown on the other side.
  10. Move steak patties to edge of skillet. Reduce heat to medium and add in sliced onion (if using). Sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in sliced fresh mushrooms, if using, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. I don’t have any fresh on hand today, so I’m using a jar of sliced mushrooms.
  11. If you’re going to make your own gravy, add in desired amount (one to two cups) of chicken broth/stock (or water with chicken bouillon). Use another splash or two of wine as part of the liquid, if you like — if so, splash in some wine first to help “de-glazed” the pan. Reduce to a simmer, and cooked, covered, to allow steaks to cook all the way through (about 15 to 20 minutes). Then remove steaks to a plate or platter to keep warm. Bring pan liquids to a boil and pour in flour/water mixture in a steady, thin stream, whisking/stirring constantly to ensure a smooth mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one to three minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook to desired consistency (gravy will thicken a bit upon standing).
  12. If you’re making packaged gravy: I’ve got a couple packets of Turkey Gravy, so I’m using that tonight. I’ve drained the liquid from the jar of mushrooms to use as part of the liquid for the gravy, and will add in a splash of wine, as well. Stir into skillet, reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer until steaks are cooked through (about 15 to 20 minutes). Remove lid. If gravy is too thin, cook, uncovered, until desired consistency. If too thick, stir in a bit more liquid and cook until desired consistency.

Serve with gravy along side or over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Add in a green veg and some bread, and there you go — turkey Salisbury steak!

We haven’t eaten yet — I’ve just now put the potatoes on and need to shape and cook the Salisbury steaks — but I can say that our kitchen smells yummy!

Rest assured I’ll report back in and let you know how it turns out.

EDITED TO ADD: It has my beloved’s seal of approval. IT IS YUMMY! I think the two keys are 1) I made sure the steaks were good and browned on both sides and 2) I used the packaged turkey gravy, which has a browner, richer look and taste to it.


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About MissieLee

I love tasty food prepared in a healthy way with a budget in mind.
This entry was posted in Main Dish, Turkey and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dr. Salisbury, I Presume?

  1. Pingback: Money… | That Smells Yummy!

  2. LinnieGayl says:

    Okay, I’ll have to admit I’ve only ever had Salisbury steak as a child in the old TV dinners, and wasn’t too fond of it. I’ll be curious to see how it is with ground turkey.

    Really interesting reading about Dr. Salisbury. I had no idea!

    • MissieLee says:

      Oh, Linnie! Please, please, PLEASE, do not judge Salisbury steak (or almost anything else!) by what you remember from an old TV dinner. The “steaks” in TV dinners have lots of fillers and such added to them. Comparing the standard TV dinner version to a homemade, handmade Salisbury steak is like saying that corrugated cardboard and good-quality, homemade biscuits (the Southern US quick-bread) are the same.

      Honestly, there’s that much difference!

      As for my experiment with the turkey Salisbury steaks…it’s a winner! It turned out very, very tasty and gave us exactly what we expected and wanted to experience when we eat good Salisbury steak. 🙂

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