I remember eating many meals from the freezer section during my time in college and a popular Hungry-Man selection was a go-to for me. At that time in my life, Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans was a quick and consistent option from the frozen food aisle.
If you’re not familiar with a recipe for Salisbury Steak or if no one makes it on the island where you live, it was created at some point in the late 1800’s and got its name from Dr. James Salisbury. In the current era, Salisbury Steak is simply seasoned ground beef sautéed until brown on both sides, served with a thickened savory mushroom gravy. Conagra, the company that makes Hungry-Man frozen specialties, thinks that the beef needs grill marks on it, so they bought a machine that sears those on with a branding iron during processing (I’m guessing).
Not sure when I got the idea to turn Salisbury steak into a sandwich, but once I started thinking about it I was surprised it wasn’t more popular. Meat and gravy on a sandwich? Sign me up!
I’ve done a little research (googling) and I have seen that there are quite a few websites with recipes for a Salisbury steak sandwich, but I don’t think I’ve seen it on a menu or heard about it being served in a restaurant. I did learn that there have been more than nine thousand two hundred minutes of Diners Drive-ins and Dives shown on Food Network, and no one has ever made a Salisbury steak sandwich on that show!
That’s an atrocity. So I made one.
After I turned it into a pretty good sandwich, I knew I had to take it a step further and make the Hungry-Man version (minus the brownie, because this is a kid friendly website). But first, I wanted to relive the experience of Hungry-Man’s Salisbury Steak.
I bought a blue box with 16 ounces of frozen stuff in it for less than four bucks. Around 9 am Sunday morning I decided was a perfect time to steam some meat and veggies in the microwave. The microwave instructions are far more prominent on the back of the box so I’m guessing that’s what is used most often.
In what seemed to be a factory mishap, the brownie batter in the package I bought had already spread into the green beans and mashed potatoes before I put it into the microwave. This caused a small problem, but nothing had spread into the Salisbury Steak sauce or meat which is what I was mostly interested in anyway.
Eight and a half minutes later, the patties seem extremely dense like they were packed super tight leaving them with a somewhat rubbery texture. The sauce is thin but still really salty and savory. Of the other side dishes/brownie, they’re fine (albeit a bit chocolaty) and nothing to write home about. The brownie flavor is rich, but again it was microwaved so it’s spongy and the texture isn’t great.
I didn’t learn much about Salisbury Steak from reliving this experience. The convenience factor is clearly why I and many other people stocked these in their freezers. Microwaving it will have dinner on your table in 8.5 minutes. If you used the oven directions instead of microwave, this would take you almost an hour including oven preheating time. It didn’t even take me an hour to make my Salisbury Steak recipe from scratch.
Now back to the project at hand:
I had what I considered to be a good Salisbury Steak sandwich recipe but I needed a way to introduce the mashed potatoes and the green beans. After the 2020 Pandemic Christmas when we all had extra leftovers, I tried frying mashed potatoes and putting that into a sandwich. It worked ok, but at that time I didn’t use enough bread crumbs to keep it crispy.
Here’s the Fried Mashed Potato recipe that I’ve refined slightly:
I didn’t make a formal recipe for the green bean puree because what I made was literally one ingredient. I took a can of roasted garlic french cut green beans and I hit it with my immersion blender (after opening the can and dumping it into a bowl of course). After talking to my Mom about this crazy idea she was a little put off by the green bean puree (try not to think about baby food) but she did have the great suggestion to add a sprinkling of “those crispy fried onions” and I did.
Below is the finished sandwich: The Hungry Man. The roll is my potato roll recipe that I’m still testing and will share soon. I toasted the roll, added a tiny bit of green bean puree to the bottom roll, stacked the crispy mashed potato then a Salisbury Steak and mushroom gravy and topped it all with a little bit more green bean puree. Over all it was a pretty flavorful sandwich. The crunch of the fried mashed potato patty was pleasant and believe it or not, the green bean puree added a nice flavor. The whole combination was very savory and it was more than I could eat but I did my best.
Would I make The Hungry Man sandwich again? Probably not.
Will I make a Salisbury Steak sandwich again? Definitely yes.