Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy (Paleo/Gluten-Free/AIP-Friendly)
You know the blank you draw at mealtimes, wondering WTH to eat?
It happens to all of us.
The most-proven, most-beneficial path I can offer is to start with protein and let the rest fall into place.
Because we need adequate protein for survival (to repair and generate new cells, keep skin youthful and healthy, keep our organs healthy, make lustrous hair, have strong bones and teeth, keep or build muscle, on and on).
And here’s a key: we will eat food, and continue to be hungry, until we meet our minimum requirement for protein.
Think about that.
Do you want to over-consume calories to get enough protein, or do you want to eat a healthy number of calories to get enough protein?
I know the answer for myself.
It has been compellingly argued that the obesity epidemic is in part due to protein dilution in our modern food supply. (It’s called the Protein Leverage Hypothesis.)
Common foods like fast foods, crackers, chips, fried foods, and desserts are high in calories and in low in protein. We eat them, never feel satiated (aka full) because they’re low in protein (and other nutrients), and so we remain hungry.
And we keep eating, because we’re not going to walk around willfully hungry all the time.
And so – I begin my meal planning with protein-rich real foods! They’re filling, they’re easy to cook, they’re deeply nutritious, and they knock out cravings.
What are these high protein-per-calorie foods? Think meats, seafood/fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, and tofu/legumes, and incorporate them into every meal.
Fill out the rest of your meal with an abundance of gorgeous vegetables, a moderate portion of starch (potatoes, sweet potatoes, gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice, plantains), and make it all taste amazing with a small amount of healthy fat from a Kickass Condiment or a simple pan sauce, like below.
My clients use meal plans to batch cook proteins, vegetables, broth, and condiments ahead of time so they can pull together fast, satiating, healthy meals all week. It’s a huge stress relief and it keeps them on track.
And in Project Vibrancy Macro Reset coaching, we use meal plans AND we talk through breakfasts, lunches, snacks, eating in restaurants and while traveling, and how to use adequate protein to lose weight without being hungry. (You can join and make a Project Vibrancy Meals meal this very night!)
Here’s a little aside for the recipe below: I made this Salisbury Steak recipe for dinner two nights ago and only cooked half of the meat. Last night, I formed the remaining meat mixture into meatballs, baked them for 20 minutes at 400°F, and served them in leftover gravy into which I had stirred a couple of tablespoons of sour cream. STROGANOFF MEATBALLS. (Served over a bit of GF pasta.) Delicious.
Both nights we had big (but simple) salads on the side. We were stuffed…in the right way.
This recipe also appears in The 30-Minute Paleo Cookbook, in a slightly different version, with a quick salad on the side. I would add a squeeze of lemon to that gravy too (I did not write that into the book).
Whether as steaks or meatballs – enjoy!
Originally posted November 11, 2013; I’ve updated the recipe to be not just gluten-free, but also AIP-friendly.
When my sister Stacey and I were little girls in Lakefield, Minnesota, Friday nights were pretty special. Our beautiful mom would get dressed up, with glamorous make-up, hair, and perfume, and she and our dad would head out for a supper club dinner.
The next morning they would tell us stories about how “Splash” the waiter could flawlessly pour water back-handed from several feet away and how the Chateaubriand they shared was butter-knife tender. I loved all of it, including the handful of cool-girl babysitters who would shower us with attention and make us TV dinners.
I didn’t want to admit it, but the only one I really liked was the Salisbury steak dinner (although I used to cross my fingers there would be no stray peas in the apple cobbler). I felt like a grown-up eating “steak” plus I loved the smooth mashed potatoes and salty gravy.I skip the packaged dinners these days, opting to make Salisbury steak from scratch, from wholesome ingredients, blowing the peas off the frozen version, as it were. This is kid food, and grandparents food, and hungry teen food all wrapped up in one nostalgic dish, making it the perfect comfort food dinner. As a bonus: it’s a one-skillet superstar, prepared on the stove top, and ready in less than an hour.
Healthy comfort food is the best comfort food of all. Especially with a side of nostalgia.
Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
4 tablespoons butter, divided (substitute avocado oil for AIP)
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef and pork)
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper (skip pepper for AIP)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (substitute mace for AIP)
Few dashes Worcestershire sauce (substitute coconut aminos for AIP)
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced thin
2 cups beef broth (homemade is best, but boxed/canned works too)
1 tablespoon tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice for serving (choose mashed sweet potatoes, cassava noodles, or cauliflower rice for AIP)
In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter (or oil for AIP). Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until onions wilt and then slowly brown. Occasionally add a splash of water to the pan if the onions start to brown too quickly. Continue sautéing and occasionally stirring the onions until very soft and deeply browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer onions to a small bowl; set skillet aside while you mix and form the steaks.
While the onions brown, add the ground beef/pork to a large bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons tapioca starch, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, several grinds black pepper (skip for AIP), nutmeg (or mace), and Worcestershire (or coconut aminos). When onions are done, add half (reserve other half for gravy). Use your hands to gently but thoroughly combine. Form the mixture into 6 oblong, 1/2-inch thick patties. Press the center of each patty so it’s a bit thinner than the edges (this keeps the patties even while cooking).
Return skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter (or oil) and when melted and hot, fry 3 of the steaks until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes/side. Transfer steaks to a warm platter and fry the remaining steaks. Keep steaks warm while you make the gravy.
If there’s not much fat in the pan, add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (or oil) and when melted, add the mushrooms along with a generous pinch of salt. Saute the mushrooms, stirring up browned bits, until wilted and lightly browned.
Add broth to the pan and bring to a simmer. One teaspoon at a time, add tapioca/water slurry to the pan, stirring, until gravy is hot, clear, and thickened a bit. Add remaining caramelized onions to the gravy. Season gravy to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper (skip for AIP) and remove from heat.
Spoon hot gravy over steaks and serve immediately.