Minced Meat, Hamburger, or Salisbury Steak?

Have you ever wondered how chopped meat, minced meat, aka hamburger elevated to the term steak in certain recipes? And in this instance Salisbury steak.  I was intrigued, so I checked around and here’s what I found. 

“…Minced or ground beef like Salisbury steak in the United States, similar foods already existed in the culinary tradition of Europe.  A collection of ancient Roman recipes that may date to the early 4th century, details a preparation of beef called isicia omentata; served as a baked patty in which minced or chopped beef is mixed with pine kernels, black and green peppercorns, and white wine, isicia omentata may be the earliest precursor to the hamburger.

Coming from this history is the Salisbury steak, which is usually served with a gravy similar in texture to a brown sauce. Invented by Dr. James Salisbury (1823–1905), the term Salisbury steak has been used in the United States since 1897. Dr. Salisbury recommended this recipe for the treatment of alimentation (digestive problems).” Wikipedia

Leave it to the Romans yet again, to create a food used in abundance today. 🙂

If you ask me, these Salisbury patties just look like misshapen hamburgers. Did Dr. Salisbury think that if he changed the shape of the hamburger that his patients would be more inclined to eat them? Are the ingredients in these so-called “steaks” that different from a good old-fashioned hamburger patty that any fast-food drive-thru or restaurant sells really do possess curing ingredients for digestive problems? 

To answer some of my questions, I found this from Quora:

“By convention, a Salisbury steak is formed in a shape that loosely imitates a steak, whereas hamburgers are usually round or square. By convention, a Salisbury steak is served with gravy and mashed potatoes and no bun, whereas a hamburger is served in a bun as a sandwich.”

And more from another source on Wikipedia:

“(Dr.) Salisbury saw beef as an excellent defense against many different physical problems. He suggested that Salisbury steak should be eaten three times a day, with lots of hot water to cleanse the digestive system.”

Salisbury steak three times a day would be a lot more than I would want to eat. The ones I made were very tasty though and I highly recommend one for lunch or dinner occasionally. But three times a day? No thank you Dr. Salisbury!

This recipe is perfect comfort food, it’s economical and easy to make.

One pound of hamburger makes four steaks.

Cooking in the gravy.

Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta, or rice. 

Serves 4

Salisbury Steak with Garlic-Onion Gravy

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  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder blend (I use McCormick's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Salt (kosher or sea) to taste
  • black pepper to taste


  1. In large bowl mix together all the steak ingredients (beef, breadcrumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt, and black pepper). Shape into 4 oval patties.
  2. Warm oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Brown both sides of patties (about 1 minute per side) and then remove from the pan.
  3. In the same pan with the beef juices add the onions and cook until onions are golden about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and butter. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly so garlic doesn't burn.
  5. Stir in the flour, cooking and stirring to remove lumps. Add about 1/2 - 1 cup of beef stock, whisking until smooth and incorporated. Then pour in the remaining broth and whisk until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring often, simmer until the gravy starts to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Add salisbury steak patties back into the gravy and cook an additional 6 minutes or so until the steak patties are cooked to your preferred doneness, stirring the gravy occasionally around the steaks. Taste for seasoning and add more salt & pepper, if needed.
  7. Serve the steaks topped with sauce.


Calories: 423 cal
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fat: 23 g
Sodium: 2013 g
Cholesterol: 127 g
Protein: 31 g
Fiber: 2 g

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