Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ode to National Burger Month

May is National Burger Month so I thought I'd give my take on a good burger. The hamburger is the perfect backyard food to experiment with. There are endless possibilities when creating a recipe, every bar and gastro-pub has their own interpretation of this simple concept. Here in Philly, every time you turn around there is someone advertising the "best" burger! I say the best burger is the one you create yourself. I put together a few burgers to share.

The first is a basic burger with a slight twist, the cheese is on the inside. It's known as a Juicy Lucy. There are two bars in South Minneapolis that claim to have invented the Juicy Lucy, Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. Hey, it's just a burger stuffed with cheese so let's do it. I recommend always buying 80% ground beef for burgers - no need to mess with any Fancy ground cuts of meat. You need that fat content to ensure it will stay juicy.

Start by forming a ball with the ground meat then press it flat. With your fingers create a well in the center of meat to hold the cheese.

Fill the center of meat with a good extra sharp cheddar. And form another flat burger to cover the first. Use your fingers to seal the two pieces together around the edge to keep cheese in during grilling.

Now the burgers are ready to hit the grill. Whatever type of grill you have, get the coals good and hot. Salt and pepper both sides of the burger, use a liberal amount of salt, this will produce a nice crust on out side of the burgers!

Let that fire do it's job, don't keep flipping the burger. Shoot for a medium-rare to medium doneness, around 140 deg.F internal temperature. Let the burger rest for at least 10min. after taking off grill.

My presentation for this cheese stuffed beauty is very basic, ketchup, mayo and some homemade onion rings on a soft sesame roll! No salad on my burgers please, I want to taste the meat. Remember, that cheese may be hot when biting!!

 Alright, now lets take this in a different direction while sticking to the stuffed burger theme! I like to call this next one the Italian Medallion. It's summer time and you feel like having a little Italian meal... say, spaghetti and meatballs - take it out to the grill!

Start by making your favorite meatball mix... pork-veal-beef, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, buttermilk... whatever makes ya happy! Form into stuffable burgers and fill with a few strips of mozzarella and cooked spaghetti  that was dipped in your favorite sauce, also add parmesan cheese - generously. Once you have your complete stuffed meatball burger, it's grill time! Do not add anything to the meat just set it on the hot grill and create intense grill marks on both sides. Now move the burger to a pot of you favorite sauce, put pot on grill and cook in sauce for about 20min. being careful not to burn sauce. I presented this spaghetti stuffed meatball burger on crispy garlic bread with a topping of extra sauce. It's sure to surprise and please you guests!

OK, hang on, it's time for a stuffed burger Philly Blind Pig style.

Here's our 80% beef stuffed with caramelized onions, sauteed balsamic mushrooms, grape jelly wasabi sauce (love this on everything!) and pepper jack cheese. I assembled this bad boy and it hit the grill.
After the burger was done on the grill I let it rest before coating it with my jalapeno corn batter and dropping it in the deep fryer!

I topped this crunchy concoction with ketchup, mayo and grape wasabi sauce and served on soft roll. I know it's extreme, but it was damn good!

Get out there and grill some burgers, play with fire and impress your friends... no friends... call me , I'll come eat your burger! Be creative when combining ingredients, you never know till you try. Oh, and when it comes to a side dish... I recommend beer!


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