Welcoming a friend back to red meat
I've been charged with making the introductory burger for a pal who hasn't eaten red meat in years. It's a lot of pressure, and frankly, I don't cook burgers that often. And here's another hurdle: she keeps kosher. Sigh.
So, what's the ideal mix of (obv's kosher) meat and what do I put in it and how long do I cook it. This is all going down in Texas next week, so I assume we're grilling.
I'm probably going with a sesame seed bun and a minimum of toppings (although she can put whatever she likes on it- I don't care). But any suggestions are appreciated.
I can handle it, really. I think I can. I think I can.
Kosher is not hurdle just means no pork - I do not think you will need to mix in any other meats just go all beef and since you are grilling I would not choose an extra-lean groud beef because the burger would dry out -
In terms of season you can go really simple just salt and pepper - but I like a little more flavor - so I would put some garlic powder and some sweet paprika - all mixed in with ground beef - - I also like to press an onion in to the ground beef when grilling and have it on the cook while grilling -
actually it also means no sirloin, tenderloin and a few other parts as well.
"Certain parts of kosher animals are non-kosher. One such part is the sciatic nerve in the hindquarters, which is extremely difficult to remove. Thus some of the choicest cuts of meat - like filet mignon and sirloin steak - are forbidden. The fat surrounding the animal's organs is also trayf. Interestingly, there is a biochemical difference between the this fat and the fat surrounding the muscles (which is kosher)."
Go to a butcher shop and get fresh ground meat, preferrably chuck or a combo of chuck and sirloin (I like to add other meats such as hanger or brisket but it might not be worth the effort for a first time (in a while) meat eater. Don't settle for supermarket pre-ground beef, if you can avoid it. You definitely want to find out how strict your friend as far as keeping kosher. To some people it means not mixing milk with meat and others require kosher beef and kosher cooking equipment, etc. Find out before you start buying anything.
I usually make 4-6 oz patties. That gives a decent meat to bun ratio and is thick enough to get a good char without overcooking it. I season with lots of salt and pepper and nothing else. The put on a hot grill and cook for a few minutes per side. For a burger that is about 1 inch thick, it should take maybe 3 min per side for medium rare.
It goes without saying that you can forget about making your friend a cheeseburger. I'd just keep the veges on the side and let her choose. Def. some sort of crisp lettuce, maybe a raw or grilled onion slice or two, some sliced tomatoes and pickles are the standard. I usually keep it to maybe a few grilled onions and a lettuce leaf, at most. I like to taste my burger. Also, lightly toast the buns on the grill for about a minute so they can get enough texture to hold together after getting soaked with burger juices.
It's a whole lot more than "no pork," believe me. If your friend is truly kosher, you can't serve her meat that you buy in any regular market. You need to go to a kosher butcher and get kosher ground beef.
Kosher is complicated and very specific. If you meant that she's not eating shellfish or pork or other treyfe (non-kosher foods), that's one thing. But, if she's keeping kosher, you can't cook regular meat for her.
Check with her before you start.
Ok, gang. Sorry if this was misleading. I know she keeps VERY kosher, and exactly what that means in terms of where I can get the meat and what I can't put into it. I only mentioned it so I wouldn't get any pork or cheese suggestions. The kosher part isn't scary, it's the making the perfect burger that matters to me. Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming, please!
Most times, in my experience, when I've been told someone keeps Kosher, it's really a "Kosher-style" diet wherein they don't eat pork or shellfish nor do they mix meat and dairy. There are some other fairly simple rules as well but nothing to get crazy about. I have many friends who fit this category and have found them easy to accomodate. If someone is Orthodox, however, that is a completely different matter and it's unlikely that they would be leaving their dietary and religious life in your hands. She would not be able to eat things from your kitchen or dishes.
What this means is that you should plan a simple hamburger but not a cheeseburger. Check that the roll is kosher or neutral. Lots of ordinary condiments are - they have a K or a U in a circle on the label. Tomato, lettuce, onion are all fine.
The best burgers are the most simple, from meat that is not too lean and has been handled the least. Make a simple patty, without adding other stuff (good meat doesn't need a thing) and don't compact it tightly. Flip it once and resist the urge to flatten it with a turner which pushes the juices out. If she hasn't eaten meat in a while, don't make it too large for it may simply be too rich.
Sometimes simple is the best. And not worrying or making a big deal out of stuff gets you through just fine.
Kosher and halal are actually quite easy to accomodate and those who follow them are generally quite gracious about helping us to understand their needs. After all, they live that way and are used to it. It's only unusual to us.