Mike's Recipe, May 2012 - Burgers!
We had a pretty warm May here in upstate New York. Our deck isn't quite ready to go for the summer but we didn't let that stop us from grilling. Burgers are a point of some stress in our house. Heather is convinced that she can't make a good burger and I just don't understand it. A burger is my ultimate comfort food and I love eating them any time she makes them. Her hesitancy to do so always makes me sad. Sounds like a perfect candidate to add to my list of go-to meals.
This wasn't the first time I've attempted to make burgers. I remember a time where I was cooking dinner for myself back in one of our first apartments. Heather wasn't home and I wanted to make two quick burgers. I threw them in a pan on the stove on high heat. The result? A smoke filled kitchen and two well done burgers.
When I set out in search of a burger recipe, I knew I wanted to find a very simple one. I wanted it to be about making the perfect burger, not about doctoring a burger up so it tastes like something different. It didn't take long to decide on Bobby Flay's L.A. Burger. The burgers in the recipe called for 80% lean beef, salt, pepper, and canola oil. It's hard to get closer to just-the-beef than that. I wanted to have a little fun though as the recipe also calls for an avocado relish that sounded spicy and great.
As I was putting the burgers together the first thing I focused on was not overworking the meat. It's tempting to really push the meat together in order to get a firm and stable patty shape. I resisted the urge and had a bit of a crumbling problem but I think the burgers were definitely better for it. After they cooked they still held together enough to go on the bun without making a mess.
The recipe calls for 7 minutes of total cooking time for medium-rare. I upped that a little bit because the burgers were a bit over the 6 ounces in the recipe and I didn't really mind if they ended up a bit closer to medium. I kept it really simple. They went on the grill (on high heat), I closed the top, and didn't even look at them for 4 minutes. At the 4 minute mark I simply opened them up, flipped them each once, and closed the cover back down, this time for 3 minutes. After that time passed, I put some cheese on and let that melt for a minute more before removing them from the heat and calling them done.
The side dish I grilled wasn't quite as successful. Heather helped me pick out another Bobby Flay recipe for Grilled Sweet Potatos. In a way, these all went wrong from the moment I was trying to cut them up. They were somewhat mushy and, worst of all, the skin wasn't staying on, causing them to fall apart all the more. They could have been cooked a bit more than necessary ahead of time or I could have just done a bad job cutting them up. I'm not sure.
When they went on the grill the issues continued. They stuck and fell apart even more. I don't think I did a good enough job oiling them, partly because I was worried they would continue falling apart. I did my best flipping them and pulled them off to apply the final nail in the coffin. I seasoned the hell out of these things with the salt and lime zest mixture. It was like eating a salt lick. I'm not sure what caused everything to go so wrong but thankfully the burgers made up for it.
The avocado mixture was awesome but it didn't have quite the spice I was hoping for. We may have just gotten a relatively mild jalapeno pepper. Using the watercress as a lettuce substitute was nice as well. It gave it a bit of a peppery kick but several leaves fell off on the plate before making it in my mouth. As long as I can forget about the grilled sweet potatoes, I can look back on this meal with fondness. I think the burger passed Heather's test too, but she's always so nice it's hard to know for sure.
You just read one of Upstate Crumbs' monthly New Recipe posts. Every month, Mike and Heather will each make a post about a new recipe. For Mike, it will usually be an adventure in trying to learn to cook. For Heather, she'll pick something that is outside of her comfort zone in some way.
Mike on May 30, 2012 at 10:13pm EDT