“Meat with the burnt top,” is how my oldest son, then ten, used to refer to one of his favorite meals. It was my simple version of Salisbury Steak that was, essentially, seasoned ground chuck, formed into patties, and lightly breaded using an egg wash and Italian breadcrumbs. From there I would sear them on each side for about five minutes until the breading got very crisp, and then partially cover the pan with a lid to allow them to cook through. The topping would be a simple gravy, usually leftover from a previous night's roast beef dinner that I would pull from the freezer, thaw and heat.
This young man turns 31 today (Happy Birthday, Christopher!), so in his honor I give you a more sophisticated version with this elegant but easy Brandied Mushroom Sauce as the topper. The recently picky Mr. O-P declared it delicious, and he was right. It has been years since I last made this dish, and I was struck by how tasty it was and how quickly it came together.
Both patties and sauce can be made the day ahead. In fact I find the patties benefit from being in the fridge for 30-60 minutes prior to cooking anyway. They'll sizzle when you first drop them into the hot pan (in which you have melted a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil), but the advance chilling allows them to hold onto their breading and their shape.
The sauce is a combination of various recipes I've tried over the years and I think this is perfection. Any cut of beef will benefit from this lovely addition.
Brandied Mushroom Sauce
1 slice lean bacon
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6-8 large button mushrooms, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Brandy
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Jameson beef soup base
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
In small sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon, crumble, and set aside.
Add butter and garlic to skillet with drippings. Sauté for one minute, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning..
Add mushrooms and pepper, and simmer until mushroom liquid begins to evaporate. Add brandy and continue simmering until almost evaporated. Stir in water, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and soup base, and boil until thickened slightly. Pour in cream and stir to blend. Add reserved bacon and parsley. Serve atop your favorite slice of beef.