One of the best things about my high school experience (and there were a lot of good things about my high school experience), was the cafeteria food. I’m not kidding!
I have heard lots of stories about bad cafeteria food served at schools but Mukwonago High School was not one of them. They had the best rectangular slices of pizza ever (at least as far as 14 to 18 year olds from a rural town in Southeastern Wisconsin would know). Another favorite of mine were the burgers. I’m not sure what kind of meat they were made of but it was definitely not 100% ground beef. I’m sure there was some sort of soy-substitute in there. Man were they delicious. (I’ve actually searched for these burgers somewhat recently and have been unable to find them.)
At least once a week (if not more) we had a ‘bar’ day. Salad bar. Baked Potato Bar. Nacho bar. Etc. (No, I never ever got the salad bar but my other friends did and raved about it.) My high school served the best shredded turkey in gravy (and mashed potatoes of course). I can’t remember if this was part of a ‘bar’ (turkey bar?) or just served on it’s own. I also have to give a shout out to the chocolate chip cookies you could buy in the a la carte line. Two completely undercooked, warm from the oven cookies for 50 cents. There was at least one year where I bought these every day at lunch.
Perhaps most surprisingly the lunch I learned to love most was Salisbury Steak. I admit I was scared to try it at first. I’d never had it before high school. My friends who’d gone to public school for grade school/middle school were more seasoned than I was when it came to hot lunch. My small Catholic grade school offered hot lunch every other Friday. (And these hot lunches were more like the traditional bad cafeteria food.) Being the young impressionable teen that I was back in high school, I tried a lot of things I wasn’t exposed to (aka wasn’t available to me) during my Catholic grade school upbringing at the suggestion of my public school friends. Student Government? Sure! Why not? Soccer? Never touched a ball in my life. But now is a good time to start. Salisbury Steak? Looks like hell. You say it’s good? All right. I’ll try it!
Sadly, I’ve never had Salisbury Steak again since high school. So when my grandma sent me this recipe, I knew I had to try it and see if it measured up to the Salisbury Steak served at Mukwonago High School. (Incidentally, my grandma clipped this recipe from the Mukwonago Chief – my hometown newspaper. I had no idea they even published recipes.)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 c.)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 7 saltine crackers, finely crushed (about 1/4 c.)
- 1 tsp. minced fresh sage (3/4 tsp. if using dried)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 T. butter, divided
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
- 3 T. flour
- 2 c. hot beef broth
- 1/2 c. red wine
- 1 to 2 T. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Gently mix the beef, egg, onion, garlic, cracker crumbs, sage, salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl using your hands. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into oval patties, about 1/2-inch thick.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the patties, about 5 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms (and garlic, if using) until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Scrape up any brown bits. Sprinkle in the flour, stir and cook 1 to 2 minute efore adding beef broth and wine. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, swirling to combine.
- Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer until sauce thickens and the patties are cooked through – about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley (optional) and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with noodles or hot mashed potatoes.
This recipe is as good as I remember Salisbury Steak to be. Maybe even better than my memory. The hardest part about making this was coordinating making the Bacon Mashed Potatoes. I’m not a fan of having to coordinate dishes. It usually works out pretty well but I find it stressful and somewhat time consuming.
My ‘steaks’ turned out looking like hamburgers. They went into the pan oval and came out round. The next time I make this I would try to shape the patties differently. Thinner and longer. (Like I remember the Salisbury Steak at MHS to be.)