After Friday’s blizzard, I am happy to have some good news today. We’re twelve days from the Eighty-fifth Academy Awards and I have a new lineup of movies and recipes to share for this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature. This year, I limited the films to those that have at least been nominated for an Oscar. In years past, this has been a popular feature and I’m thrilled to do it again for a third year.
This year’s first film is one of my guilty pleasures, Pleasantville. The 1998 film finds teenage siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) transported into the fictitious 1958 television show Pleasantville. In Pleasantville, David and Jennifer pretend to be Bud and Mary Sue Parker, characters on the show. I won’t give away why it happens in case you haven’t seen the film, but slowly the characters on Pleasantville change from black and white to color. The town fathers dislike the changes to the town and begin to create rules including a ban on going to the library or using paint in colors other than black and white. Pleasantville was nominated for three Academy Awards. In the categories for Best Art Direction- Set Decoration and Best Costume Design, Pleasantville lost to Shakespeare In Love. In the Best Music, Original Dramatic Score category, Pleasantville lost to Life is Beautiful.
There are various scenes where Betty Parker (Joan Allen) who is the sitcom’s mother figure holds up plates full of pancakes or Rice Krispie treats to the camera. This is reminiscent of a real 50’s era sitcom when blatant product placement was a common form of advertisement. As a nod to the film centering around a 1958 sitcom I made a tv dinner classic, Salisbury steak. Salisbury steak doesn’t have to be the hardly identifiable meat slab drowned in something that can only loosely be called gravy that used to be a tv dinner staple. This is a much more modern and tasty take on the classic. The onion gravy for this is amazing and so easy to make and the steaks cook in just ten minutes which makes this great weeknight comfort food. In keeping with tv dinner tradition, I served this with mashed potatoes and peas and there wasn’t a plate on the table that wasn’t clean by the time the meal ended.
for the steaks:
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1/2 C. seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp. dry ground mustard
- 1 cube beef bouillon, crumbled
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil, for frying
- 1 Tbsp. butter, for frying
for the gravy:
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 2 C. beef broth (plus more if needed for thinning)
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. corn starch mixed with a little water to make a thin paste
- salt and pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the steaks except for the olive oil and butter.
Knead lightly until thoroughly combined.
Form into 6 equally portioned, oval shaped patties.
Heat the oil and butter together over medium high heat in a large skillet.
Place the steaks into the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip the steaks and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until they are no longer pink in the middle.
Remove the steaks from the pan and pour any extra grease out of the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and put the onions in the pan.
Cook, stirring, for several minutes until golden brown and somewhat soft.
Add beef stock, Worcestershire, and ketchup to the pan and stir to combine.
Cook, stirring, for several minutes while the mixture reduces.
If needed, add 1-2 teaspoons of the cornstarch mixture to the skillet to thicken the gravy slightly (you don’t want the gravy to be very thick, so only add up to 2 teaspoons if needed), or add more beef broth if the gravy needs thinning.
Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
Place the steaks in the pan with the gravy.
Spoon the gravy, including onions, and let them simmer for a few minutes until heated through.
Makes 6 servings.
Source: The Pioneer Woman