The burger revolution. Over the last few years I’ve watched different burger places open up and other restaurants revamp their burger offerings. Burgers are a quintessential American dish. We’re not talking McDonald’s, we’re talking Five Guys. It’s like fingers on a chalkboard when I see American-based fast food chains sprouting up all over the world. Hamburgers are quick to make; you don’t need the golden arches to be able to serve food fast.
You start out with a great hamburger base and add toppings to create different flavor profiles. For the burger we either grind our own or ask the butcher to do so for us. We do not prepackaged, preformed patties. It doesn’t take that much time to make your own. Plus if you make your own you’ll know what meat is being used. Chuck, round or sirloin are the three typical choices for grinding. The trick for burgers is using beef with fat content. Sirloin has the least, but go for beef that has 20-25% fat. I’ve read that adding ground short rib not only boosts flavors but beefs up the fat content. [I’ll be picking up some short rib from the farmers market tomorrow.] For grilling, be consistent with patty size for even cooking, otherwise smaller burgers may be done before larger patties.
Next come the dressings and toppings. There’s nothing wrong with the standard lettuce, tomato and ketchup topping, but here’s where you can make your burgers stand out from the other backyard cooks in the neighborhood. Make your own aioli with cilantro, garlic, fresh lime juice and evoo mayonnaise. Add some char-grilled jalapenos for crunch and avocado (I would put avocado on everything). There’s nothing wrong with that monster bottle of ketchup, but try making your own, or use fresh tomatoes from your garden and make a tomato chutney. Melt some Gorgonzola for a creamy sauce.
I love building the burger and seeing the layers of colors and different textures. I hate eating them. More often than not I’ll bite into the 6″-high burger and something ends up on my shirt. If I know I won’t be sitting with a fork and knife to eat the impressive tower, I make stuffed burgers or sliders.
This dish is a perfect example of “food fast” burger. I quickly put together a few ingredients, all items I had in the refrigerator. Fresh peaches from the farmers market and fresh figs from my local Italian market turned into a peach and fig chutney. This paired nicely with Brookford Farm’s blue cheese.
[makes about 6 sliders]
What you need:
- 1/2 Vidalia onion
- 1 tbs evoo or butter
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 4 oz blue cheese (either cut into 6 cubes or crumbled)
- Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- Peach and Fig Chutney for topping, if desired
What you do:
- In cast iron skillet or saute pan melt evoo or butter.
- Thinly slice onion.
- Add onion to skillet and cook until caramelizing begins, about 5 min.
- Remove from heat.
- Season beef with salt and pepper.
- Massage to mix seasonings into beef.
- Divide into 6 patties.
- Flatten patty and make depression in center.
- Place cheese in depression and top with onion.
- Fold sides of beef up to enclose.
- Press patty down to form uniform shape.
- Grill to desired temperature.
- Top with peach and fig chutney, if desired.