Recipe Reclamation: Bringing Back Chopped Steak

November  5, 2013

Sunday Dinners comes to us from our own chef/photojournalist/farmer/father figure Tom Hirschfeld, featuring his stunning photography and Indiana farmhouse family meals.

Today: Don't think TV dinner. Every culture has a (delicious) chopped steak recipe, and it's time to bring them back.

Hanb?gu: a Japanese style chopped steak.

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While it might not be haute cuisine, chopped meat is surely economical, flavorful, and versatile. From meatballs to croquettes to tacos, it can it do it all and can do it with ease. It is an uncomplicated ingredient, often interchangeable, and more often than not is a beacon signaling out comfort food to anyone within range.    

More: Also high on the comfort food scale? This Patty Melt.

Take for example chopped steak: it is nothing new. Salisbury steak for instance has been around since 1897. Named after a doctor, Dr. Salisbury, who created it. Salisbury was also a believer in a low-carb diet, fancy that.

Ingredients commonly found in all chopped steaks.

While Salisbury steak is truly American, every culture around the world seems to have a minced steak dish. There is the Hamburg steak in Germany, which is the precursor to the American hamburger, sans bun, and was even considered by Escoffier to be haute cuisine. And of course there are others -- Swiss steak, frikadelle, rissole, and my two favorites: the Japanese hanb?gu and the Hawaiian loco moco.

Salisbury Steak

If you are like me, when you come across the occasional mom and pop joint that has a Salisbury steak listed on the pressed letter board menu mounted above the flat top griddle full of caramelizing onions and the hot stove with steaming pots of gravy, you order it. Not always are they great -- they often use beef base for their gravy and some sort of prepared meat patty -- but when they are done right, from scratch, they are amazingly good.

Chopped Venison Steak with Tarragon Dijon Butter

Sadly, we all know many of these dishes have been institutionalized -- who doesn't have a school cafeteria story? -- but that doesn't mean at one time before they were made into vacuum-packed TV dinners that they weren't delicious. More than likely, their only fault is they became too popular, thus banishing them to the freezer section by the industrial food industry. Somehow the cook was relegated to an alternate role when it came to preparing this kind of food, one of reheating, combining, and serving. I think it’s time to change that.

Japanese Chopped Steak with Caramelized Onion Curry Gravy (Hanb?gu)

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided into 4 tablespoons
2 1/2 cups yellow onions, small dice
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs, gluten-free or otherwise
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground sirloin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour or 3 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sake mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Tom Hirschfeld

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Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.


loubaby March 23, 2015
Tom did you actually make this recipe exactly as stated?...because I did and it was not good at all....I made it for a client of mine and had to start over with a new recipe because it was not acceptable...blah and sauce not good...I understand we all cook something and then write what we thought we added....please check this recipe as written...something is not right.
mmcdaniel January 22, 2014
It's funny how people might turn their nose up at chopped steak, but rave about a certain meatball they might have had.
Sara S. December 13, 2013
Hi Tom, do you think I can ask the butcher to grind the chuck and sirloin? I don't have a meat grinder at home.
thirschfeld December 14, 2013
Yes, most will have no problem doing that for you.
Scott November 5, 2013
I'm thinking of doing the Chopped Venison Steak with Tarragon Dijon Butter (above) 'Dave Arnold' Style - Just Sayin'