Helluva Burger [moved from Boston board]
I put this on the Boston Board, because I am not really a cook-a-burger-at-home guy. But there have been so many threads on the Boston board lately about burgers, and with the current demise (hopefully temporary) of Tim's tavern, I have been craving a serious burger for about a year. I have tried a couple of times, and come up short: have not hit O'Sullivans yet; I can't deal with eating at Bartley's, too crazy. Sometimes when it comes to food, you have to do it yourself:
The only thing I had eaten that day was (homemade) pancakes for breakfast, and some delicious Melon (Arax) for lunch. I am not a huge carnivore, but I was hungry.
I hit Shaws, and they had some pretty nice ground round, 15% fat. I really wanted chuck, but they did not have it. The only sirloin they had was 10%. I do like the 15% fat. I usually try to get the meat guy to grind some chuck for me on the spot, but he had cleaned the meat grinder for the day and would not oblige.
This was not intended to be very traditional burger, for toppings, I rounded up things I had in the house.
Made a 10-12 oz. patty with a touch of sea salt and fresh black pepper. (Recently bought some really fresh, fragrant peppercorns from Vietnam at the big supermarket in Chinatown.) The burger was almost an inch thick; I was careful not to over handle the meat.
Got a cast iron skillet smoking hot.
Meanwhile I toasted up 2 slabs of Iggy's 7 grain bread for my "bun."
Cooked the burger a good 5-6 minutes on each side. When it was done, it really was rare, I am usually a medium rare guy, but did not want to over cook this beauty and the outside was done.
As it finished I plopped two big slabs of aged goat cheese (Galleygirl was kind enough to give me a variety of wonderful dairy products a few weeks back cause I caught some striper and bluefish) on top and let it melt just a bit.
I smeared the bread with just the right amount of Kosciusco mustard, Heinz Ketchup, and a bit of Lea and Perrins (my favorite) steak sauce.)
Then I put a generous amount of slivers of local red onion, slices of local tomato, and a fistful of watercress on top.
Popped the lid on, and with a large glass of Sebastiani 2001 Barbera, I ate one Helluva burger. Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmmmmm. I satisfied my burger craving. Whew!
ketchup & mustard on a burger? Don't get me started...
There are cast iron fans out there, but IMO, fire makes the best burgers on the planet. When I'm in the mood for an awesome burger, I light up hickory or oak chunks and pile them high on my grill. The cooking surface is well over 800 degrees.
I take my ground chuck or sirloin, season is with just a splash of worcestershire sauce and a squirt of sriracha. I take some Danish blue cheese and freshly cooked, crumbled bacon and "stuff" my burger with it. The outside is seasoned liberally with smoked salt, pepper, and a little ground coriander.
I brush my grates with the drippings from the bacon cooked earlier (I do this fast as hell to avoid 3rd degree burns). A minute or so per side, and it's done - the meat is medium-rare, the cheese nice and melted.
I use bulky rolls from the bakery that's lightly toasted. Spread both sides with a nice aoli and more pepper. Place the burger on the bun, top it with shallots & mushrooms sauteed in the bacon drippings. Top with more bacon, if desired (and who can say no to more bacon?). I usually top it with mixed field greens, but watercress would be great if I ever had any on hand.
Ground lamb, stuffed with chopped calamata olives and feta. Top it with tzatziki
One trick that I've found works really well for cooking meat on a cast iron skillet (I could be wrong, but this could derive from the old New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne):
Heat the skillet on a high heat so it's incredibly hot. Salt the pan generously, and then add the meat. The combination of the heat and the salt should sear the meat, trapping much of the juices. (Make sure to moderate any salt you add directly to the meat as a result of the salt in the pan.) Cook that side on high heat until that side reaches its desired doneness (on the outside; the inside will still be close to raw). Flip the meat, sear the outside on high heat briefly, and then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the desired inside temperature is reached. Note that this works best (as is almost always the case when cooking meat), if the meat is closer to room temperature, rather than right out of the fridge, so that the meat cooks more evenly.
Nice! I, too, greatly miss Tim's. From what I've heard through the grapevine though, I'm not terribly optimistic we'll ever see it again.
As for burger recipes, I spent most of last Patriots' season in the Gillette Stadium parking lot experimenting with ground Kobe (Wagyu, actually). While I loved the 100% Wagyu version, some people thought it was bit TOO rich. So I've developed a 50/50 Wagyu-to-chuck recipe that everyone seems to love. The cool part is (after trial and error), is that I don't just mix the two together. I make an interior "core" of the Wagyu, and then surround it with the chuck. Not only does this protect the delicate Wagyu from overcooking, but it cuts down the extreme richness a bit.
It's gotten raves from my friends. Of course, they're so buzzed by then, who knows if they can even taste the things.:)