Friday, 13 May 2011

A Second Response to Summer: BBC Burgers

In my previous post, I made a larger than expected batch of chicken salad. And while the brightness and cooling qualities of the dish certainly helped me get through the opposing heat that has now arrived with the burgeoning spring and otherwise threatening summer, I was still thinking about grilling and which in turn eventually led me to forming my own burger patties. Oh yes, and if you are looking at the photo above and are appalled by the thought of not eating these burgers with caramelized onions, cheese, and slices of bacon, well... continue reading, because all of those ingredients (along with garlic, thyme, and dijon mustard) are in my BBC burgers.

One of my favourite (and admittedly unhealthiest) culinary move is sautéeing onions and garlic in rendered bacon fat. To that end, and because I want bacon in the burgers anyway, crisp up four slices of bacon and set these aside to cool (this also makes it easier to break apart later). While the bacon is going, mince together 1/2 onion and 4 cloves garlic; after your bacon has been transferred out of the sautée pan, turn off the heat and allow the hot bacon fat to cook the onion and garlic together. Once you stop hearing the sizzle of the fat, bring the pan to medium heat, crumble in your bacon, and cook everything together until most of the moisture has evaporated and the fat absorbed into this mix. Transfer all of this onto a paper towel lined plate to drain any remaining moisture.

As the above mix is cooling (do not add this hot to the fresh beef mix you are about to make!), mix together (with your hands, of course) about 1 lb ground beef (here, 1.09 lb), 1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1/3 c breadcrumbs, 1 heaping tsp thyme, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, and 1 egg. Finally, mix in the bacon-garlic-onion mix you made earlier, and (unlike what I ended up doing, as seen above) tightly form patties out of the burger mix; if you divide everything evenly from the start, you can more easily get 8 patties out of this. In a shallow dish, mix together about 1/2 c all purpose flour and a large pinch each of ground sea salt and black pepper. Coat each of the patties in this flour mixture. This flour mix will add a great crunch to the exterior of the burgers.

At this point, you are finally ready to start frying the burgers. The pan you used earlier for the bacon-garlic-onion mix should have some trace of grease left over; if not, add about a tablespoon of oil (canola or otherwise). In a hot pan, cook the burgers (covered) to your liking (in general, about 3-4 minutes per side works well). Since you are cooking covered, be sure to have your windows open, as the steam and heat certainly have the potential to fill up the kitchen.

To "toast" the hamburger buns, lay them face-up and put them under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown (or darker, if you prefer / forget to take them out on time...).

With the burgers all fried up, let's work on the "healthy" vegetable side dish: brown sugared carrots. In a skillet, covered, cook 1/2 lb baby carrots in 1 c water until you start to get a rolling simmer. Once you have reached that point, add 2 tbsp dark brown sugar and 1 tbsp unsalted butter and continue cooking the carrots uncovered on medium heat. The carrots are done when they are fork tender; finish cooking off the water until the brown sugar and butter have come together to form a light syrup (do not let it cook to the point of actually turning into a caramel).

Set the table (leftover homemade chicken salad included) and enjoy the comforting taste of bacon and cheese set against the ever cooling lettuce and slight crunch from both the toasted hamburger bun and light flour coating on the burger itself. To be enjoyed against a saltier dish, the sugared carrots should provide a sweet counterbalance. For other BBC burger photos, click here.

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