Thursday, December 01, 2011

School Lunches and Salisbury Steaks

I have fond memories of my school lunches at elementary school. It was the 80's and except for a cupcake sale every now and then, we didn't have junk food or vending machines at school. Every day at 12 PM we would all come downstairs to the cafeteria and get on line with our tray. First the milk, then the main dish followed by the sides and finally dessert, which would always be fresh fruit or a small cup of applesauce. I remember almost all of the lunch ladies. They wore blue dresses (not the most flattering, may I add) and transparent hats which resembled shower caps. Some were nicer than others. They smiled more or would ask if they could help you open your milk or start your orange. Others behaved as though they absolutely hated kids (and their job). It seemed like they derived great pleasure at slapping down a side of mashed potatoes on your plate. Slam! There you go, now move it kid!
We had a calendar every month where we could read what we could expect on the menu. I looked forward to the teacher handing out that calendar and would draw big, red circles around my favorite meals. There were things like spaghetti and meatballs, tater tots and chicken patty, omelettes with cheese on a roll and pizza on Fridays. If you didn't like what they were offering on that particular day, your only choice was peanut butter and jelly. They always had a big pile of those at the end of the line, right befor the fruit, and they were pretty good.
One of my favorite lunches was salisbury steak. It was served with gravy, mashed potatoes and peas. I don't think I was alone in that because I still remember how quickly it disappeared from the other kids' plates! I had pretty much forgotten about that dish, until last Christmas when my parents sent me a copy of the Food Network Magazine from the US. I was so excited when I came across a recipe for salisbury steak. It suddenly brought back all those memories of my elemenary school years back in New Jersey. The good ol' days! I am going to share that recipe with you today because I am sure you'll love it. This is by no means very exciting food. In fact, it's actually considered 'poor man's food'. To me though, it's retro food at its best! Enjoy!

Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms
Serves 4
(Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, December 2010 issue)
500g ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
8 saltine crackers (two Dutch packs), finely crushed
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and freshly-ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsps all-purpose flour
chopped parsley
buttered noodles or mashed potatoes, to serve
Mix the beef, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, sage, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper in a large bowl. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape the portions into oval-sized patties.  Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan and brown the patties 4 minutes per side over medium-high heat. Transfer to a warmed plate and cover with foil. Add another tbsp of butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until slightly browned. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and more salt and pepper to taste, scraping up any browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of hot water and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken (about 2 minutes). Add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and swirl to combine. Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the patties are cooked through (about 2 minutes). Sprinkle with the parsley and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with hot buttered noodles or mashed potatoes.


At Anna's kitchen table said...

Paola that looks so good!
Great post, I felt as if I was with you in the lunch queue!

Paola said...

Thank you, Anna! I know you also like retro American food, so be sure to try this one! :)