Hamburger steak takes simple ground beef patties to a whole new level. Unlike Salisbury steak that is typically prepared with a gravy made from pan drippings and thickened with flour or cornstarch, hamburger steaks rely on seasonings that enhance the flavor of the meat. Preparing the dish without gravy shifts the flavor focus to the meat and any seasoning vegetables you use, and you can do this either in a skillet or on a stove top grill.
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Hamburger steak gets its name from the practice of forming the ground beef into patties in the shape of small steaks. The basic flavor of the meat is brightened by seasonings that are mixed into it before frying or grilling or by the vegetables that are either cooked with it or added at serving time. One pound of ground beef makes four 4-ounce steaks or two 8-ounce steaks, and their thickness determines the total cooking time.
Cooking the Steaks
To cook steaks on top of the stove, heat oil or butter in a large heavy skillet until hot but not smoking, and brown the steaks on both sides. Add the cooking liquid of your choice to the pan, reduce heat and cook uncovered without turning until the meat registers an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the steak to get an accurate reading. Remove the steaks to a plate and sauté sliced onions, bell peppers and sliced mushrooms in the pan juices until tender and golden brown.
You can also prepare hamburger steaks without gravy on a stove top or built-in indoor grill. Heat the grill to high, or about 475 degrees F, and coat it lightly with olive oil or pan spray. Cook the hamburger steaks for about 2 minutes on each side, then finish cooking without turning for up to 6 minutes for well done. When the steaks are done, remove them to a plate and use the grill to sauté some onions, peppers, garlic or mushrooms, or a combination. If you want the vegetables to be ready when the steaks are, sauté them in oil in a separate skillet, and serve with the cooked steaks.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to mixing and shaping ground beef into hamburger steaks, and this applies to seasonings as well. Basic touches include minced onion, garlic and parsley, as well as salt and pepper that are mixed with the meat. Add an egg for richness and plain or seasoned breadcrumbs for extra tenderness. When the steaks are done, stir beef broth, red wine or balsamic vinegar into the pan drippings. Return the steaks to the pan and spoon the pan juices over them.