Archive for the ‘burgers’ Category

And May is National Hamburger Month. How can you go wrong? First, a favorite burger recipe, then one for brisket.

The Inside-Out Burger: If I’m making bacon cheeseburgers to bring to a barbecue, even if it’s on my back deck, instead of bringing a package of bacon and a package of cheese and a stack of burgers, I put all the ingredients inside the patties themselves. As the burgers cook, the fat from the bacon and the gooey cheese melt and combine with the burger meat to make a really tasty and moist burger.

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2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
garlic salt
avocado oil or pork fat

In a bowl, combine the beef, the cheese and the bacon, mixing well so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Form the beef into 1/4 lb. patties. Refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook to firm them up.

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a drop of oil or pork fat. Place the burgers in the hot skillet to sear and sprinkle with the garlic salt. When browned, flip the burgers and place the skillet in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.

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Brisketta: There’s a wonderful Italian roasted meat dish called Porchetta (por-ketta). The classic version consists of a pork belly that is seasoned and then wrapped around a pork loin. The meat is tied, then roasted slowly for hours, basted with wine and the meat juices until the pork is cooked and the outside skin is crackly and crispy. Then it’s sliced like a log and served as a sandwich or a main dish.

I decided to use the same method of cooking for beef brisket, and I called it “Brisketta.”

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I flipped the brisket fat-side-down on my cutting board and carefully sliced it down the middle horizontally to make two large–even thinner–slabs of meat. The bottom half, with the fatty side of the brisket, would eventually be my outside layer. The top half would be my inside layer.

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I took the top half and slathered some of my seasonings on it. Then I rolled it tightly into a log. I slathered more of my seasonings onto the bottom half of the brisket, then rolled it around the first log, so that the fattiest side of the brisket would now be on the outside of this large meat log. I tied the meat log up tightly with butchers’ twine and let it rest in my fridge overnight.

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7 lbs. beef brisket
1 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted and cooled
5–3″ strips of bacon, cooked and cooled
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
2 teaspoons basil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil

Pour the fennel seed in a hot, dry pan on the stove. Toast the seeds until they release their aroma, but don’t let them burn. Set aside to cool.

Crumble the bacon strips and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled fennel seeds, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and lemon zest.

Run the food processor and slowly pour in the olive oil, until you have a paste much like pesto.

Slice the brisket in half horizontally. Save the piece with the fatty side for last, because this is the piece that will wrap around the others, with the fatty side out. Smear the rub on the first piece of brisket and roll it tightly into a log. Smear the rub on the second piece of brisket and wrap it around the first piece, making sure the fatty side is on the outside.

Once you’ve rolled both pieces into a single meat log, scored the fatty exterior with a knife and rub any leftover seasoning paste onto it. If you have none left, simply season with salt and pepper.

Tie the meat log tightly with butchers’ twine, tucking in all loose ends.

At this point, you can place the meat log in the fridge until ready to cook, remembering to remove it at least an hour before cooking so that it comes back to room temperature.

Pre-heat an oven or smoker at 250 degrees. Place the meat log directly on the grate, with a pan underneath to catch the dripping fat. Place a bowl of water in there as well, to keep the meat moist while it cooks. Cook for 4 1/2 hours, or until the interior temperature reaches 130 degrees. Let it rest an hour before slicing…if you can wait that long!

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The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every burger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend the flavors.

March 18 is National Sloppy Joe Day.

My sandwich takes on a Mexican twist, using seasoned taco meat and a great barbecue sauce. Putting them together with a sprinkling of Mexican cheese on a bun with lettuce and tomato made for one sloppy but delicious sandwich!

sloppy jose

 

For the barbecue sauce…

2 cups ketchup

3/4 cup water

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

6 tablespoons white vinegar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

 

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. If you store it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll stay good for a few months.

 

For the seasoned taco meat…

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

olive oil

2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef

 

Combine all the spice ingredients in a bowl.

Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add the beef and saute until cooked, mixing in the spice mixture a little at a time until you’ve used it all.

 

For the sandwich…

Take some of the taco meat and place it in a small non-stick pan and heat on medium. Squirt in as much of the barbecue sauce as you like, mixing thoroughly. Sprinkle some grated Mexican cheese on top, mixing thoroughly and letting it all melt together into one warm, gooey mess. Throw it on a bun. Add lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, whatever you like!

 

Not a very complex idea. I just put the stuff that’s usually on the outside, on the inside of my burgers. Why? Why not?

If I’m making bacon cheeseburgers to bring to a barbecue, even if it’s on my back deck, instead of bringing a package of bacon and a package of cheese and a stack of burgers, I’ve got all the ingredients conveniently in the patties. And as the burgers cook, the fat from the bacon and the gooey cheese melt and combine with the burger meat to make a really tasty and moist burger.

I make 2 lbs. of burgers at a time, using 1 lb. of ground grass-fed beef and 1 lb. of pastured ground veal. For the sake of this recipe, we’ll just call it beef.

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2 lbs. ground beef

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes

1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled

garlic salt

avocado oil or pork fat

 

In a bowl, combine the beef, the cheese and the bacon, mixing well so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Form the beef into 1/4 lb. patties. Refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook to firm them up.

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a drop of oil or pork fat. Place the burgers in the hot skillet to sear and sprinkle with the garlic salt. When browned, flip the burgers and place the skillet in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.

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Re-posting this on National Cheeseburger Day!

When it comes to grilling, lamb is often overlooked. Yet it’s a wonderful, flavorful meat that makes a great burger. The taste of lamb can be a bit strong, however, so I mix 1 lb of ground lamb with 1 lb of ground grass-fed beef.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra Virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons minced Spanish onion
2.5 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each fresh parsley, mint, and dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
.5 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1 scallion, finely chopped, green part only
1 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add onions. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix onions, lamb, pork, mustard, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper.
Form meat into slider-sized patties. Place on baking sheet covered with non-stick foil, and place in fridge.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire.

lamburger

To keep the Greek flavors going, I came up with this feta cheese dressing that works great with the lamburgers.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1  cup mayo
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4–5 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Best the next day.

Don’t let the lamburgers get too cold in the fridge…just enough to firm the meat up a bit. If it gets too cold, give it a few minutes at room temp to warm up again.  Grill burgers until cooked to medium. Place on slider buns with lettuce and tomato, and smear the bun with the feta cheese dressing.

My name for a messy yet delicious taco on a bun. I had leftover taco meat and leftover barbecue sauce…recipes from two previous blogs. Putting them together with a sprinkling of Mexican cheese on a bun with lettuce and tomato made for one sloppy but delicious sandwich!

sloppy jose

How to make one…

For the barbecue sauce, I used the sauce inspired by Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, Texas, as featured in my last blog: http://wp.me/p1c1Nl-qX

For the seasoned taco meat…

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

olive oil

2lbs. grass-fed ground beef

 

Combine all the spice ingredients in a bowl.

Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add the beef and saute until cooked, mixing in the spice mixture a little at a time until you’ve used it all.

 

For the sandwich…

Take some of the taco meat and place it in a small non-stick pan and heat on medium. Squirt in as much of the barbecue sauce as you like, mixing thoroughly. Sprinkle some grated Mexican cheese on top, mixing thoroughly and letting it all melt together into one warm, gooey mess. Throw it on a bun. Add lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, whatever you like!

 

Ernest Hemingway loved his burgers…and he loved to put all kinds of crazy ingredients in them. Following the basic guidelines of his recipe, seen below, I put my own spin on it.

Hemingway's burger notes

Hemingway’s burger notes

I skipped the India relish. Didn’t have it in my pantry.

Beau Monde Seasoning is readily available, but I made my own at home:

1 tablespoon cloves

1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon Bay leaf powder

1 tablespoon allspice

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon white pepper

Combine all these ingredients, grinding to a powder whatever you have as whole pieces: cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg, etc. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar.

And Mei Yen Powder can be replaced with equal parts salt, sugar, and MSG (which I leave out.) To this I add some soy sauce.

So here’s my take on it:

Ingredients:

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef

2 garlic cloves, squeezed through a garlic press

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon dried sage

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon homemade Beau Monde seasoning

1/3 cup white wine (I use Alice White chardonnay)

1 raw egg

Combine all ingredients and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. The meat may be a bit mushy, but you can form 4 equal sized patties. Place them in a hot ovenproof pan that has a little oil and sear on one side. Flip burgers, and sear on the other side. Place pan in a 350-degree oven and cook until desired doneness.

The verdict: Hemingway was crazy! Though the burger had some exotic flavors–it tasted almost like a burger from the Middle East–my personal choice is still to go with a relatively plain burger of exceptional quality, season it lightly, and cook it to medium-rare. Toppings like caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms are always welcome, but in many ways, less is more. Hemingway clearly thinks more is more…but maybe his burger meat wasn’t all that good and he need to mask the bad flavor. Anyway…a fun experiment!

The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every cheeseburger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon ketchup

1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend flavors.

When it comes to grilling, lamb is often overlooked. Yet it’s a wonderful, flavorful meat that makes a great burger. The taste of lamb can be a bit strong, however, so I mix 1 lb of ground lamb with 1 lb of ground grass-fed beef.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra Virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons minced Spanish onion
2.5 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each fresh parsley, mint, and dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
.5 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1 scallion, finely chopped, green part only
1 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add onions. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix onions, lamb, pork, mustard, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper.
Form meat into slider-sized patties. Place on baking sheet covered with non-stick foil, and place in fridge.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire.

lamburger

To keep the Greek flavors going, I came up with this feta cheese dressing that works great with the lamburgers.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1  cup mayo
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4–5 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Best the next day.

Don’t let the lamburgers get too cold in the fridge…just enough to firm the meat up a bit. If it gets too cold, give it a few minutes at room temp to warm up again.  Grill burgers until cooked to medium. Place on slider buns with lettuce and tomato, and smear the bun with the feta cheese dressing.

In the tradition of the Food Network’s extremely popular show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” I get a special thrill in discovering great old eating establishments while on the road.

One way to easily hunt down those local gems is by downloading an app like MapMuse on my iPhone, which tells me all of the locations of every joint featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

So whenever I’m heading home to New York to see my family, I check the website out for the possibility of a fun eating experience along the way, not too far off I-95.

One time I made a stop in Westport, CT at the Black Duck Cafe, and chowed down on an amazing sauteed crawfish po-boy and Caesar salad, on the waterfront of this sleepy blue-collar town, the elevated highway directly above.

More recently, I stopped in New Haven, CT at the legendary Louis’ Lunch, established in 1895. With room for only 25 people, this tiny hot spot claims it is where the hamburger was invented. If you want a fancy burger, this is not the place. They serve ’em just a few ways: with cheese or without, with tomatoes and onions or without. All burgers are cooked medium-rare, and come on toasted white bread. No ketchup in the building. No salt and pepper. For sides: potato salad or chips. Some drinks. And that’s it!

Apparently, they don’t need to cater to the masses, because there’s always a line out the door, and the wait can be as long as 2 hours for a burger…and people gladly wait.

A fresh batch of burgers right out of the grill!

I was lucky: I got there on a Friday afternoon and missed the lunch rush, so I only had to wait a half-hour for my taste of history, still grilled in the funky-looking original gas-fired grills built back in the 1800’s.

The original grills at Louis’ Lunch: 9 burgers are cooked at a time, placed in a screen that holds them while they cook sideways.

In all honesty, it was not the best burger I’ve ever had…and I don’t know if I’d wait 2 hours for one. But it was a fun experience being there…watching others in line doing what I was doing: whipping out the phone and taking pictures of this legendary establishment…one that almost succumbed to the wrecking ball until the people of New Haven came to the aid of Louis’ Lunch and had it moved down the road to its current location.

At the counter: White plastic bags full of sliced bread await the toaster that sends them spinning around on a belt.
It just takes a couple of minutes off I-95 to get to Louis’ Lunch. Certainly more fun than stopping at some fast food joint. And a chance to taste a bit of  history.