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Stuff we’ve been eating.

Man, oh, man, what an eating journey I have been on over the last few weeks.  Due to some technical difficulties, I was unable to post pics of some home-cooked meals, so this post is going to be a gather-all of everything that has been going on in my culinary world over the last couple of weeks.

I will start from the most important two meals that I have had in the last couple of days: my two birthday dinners.  Yes, burgerboy is one year closer to being a burgerman, and the dreaded 3-0 awaits me in 364 days.  But until then, I am going to keep eating like I am a twenty-something stud with an iron stomach.

Continue reading ‘Stuff we’ve been eating.’

Burger Bar Cookbook: The Burger Nest.

So, I’m a pretty awesome burgerboyfriend.  So, come Christmastime, I got burgergal Hubert Keller’s cookbook, among other awesome super-thoughtful gifts.  The book has a lot of recipes that I will probably never make, but it’s got some interesting ones, too.  And it has pretty pictures.

One of the more intriguing recipes is called “burger and fries.”  It’s a pretty innocent title for what is actually nothing like burger and fries.  Burger IN fries, maybe, but nothing like burger and fries.  It’s more like a nest of fries, with a burger inside of it.  It looks very difficult to make  Since burgergal and I are on a healthy kick (or something… I mean, we are getting Momofuku bo ssam on Saturday, so…), we decided to try this one, since it seems to be less terrible for you than a burger on a squishy potato bun.  Never mind the fact that it is pan-fried.  That is but a trivial detail.

With a Monday off, lunch time seemed to be the best time to finally make it happen.  I defrosted the pound of ground Sun Fed beef that I had picked up at the market back when I used to brave it on Wednesday afternoons at the office.  For having been frozen, the meat was surprisingly good looking.  It was in one of those hermetically-sealed vacuum bags, so that seemed to keep everything in good shape.  After making the patties and letting them chill for a bit, it was time to get it going.

I first took care of the julienning the potato.  Since our mandoline doesn’t have a fancy julienne attachment, I had to do a little knife work by hand, but that was ok with me.  I seasoned up the potatoes in a bowl, and let some of the moisture seep out.  Right before making the nest, I gave the potatoes a quick squeeze in a kitchen towel and got to work.

First, I brushed the hamburger patties on one side with a beaten egg white, and laid the patties on heaps of the potato strips, hoping that the potatoes would stick.

Then, I delicately placed another heap of potatoes on top of each patty, and again, hoped they would stick.  Right off the bat, I found that my julienned potatoes were nothing like Hubert’s.  His were so much finer, so much more… French.  But no matter, all of this was going to get fried in olive oil, so who cared what it looked like?

First pass.

Second pass. Much better.

Then, with my clumsy American hands and fatly julienned potatoes, I went to work “pressing firmly yet gently” to get the cocoon of potatoes just right.  After a few minutes of sheer frustration, I just decided to go with what I had.  I was getting hungry, anyway.

Now, the fun part.  It was time to fry up the burgers.  We pre-heated the oven to 450 and got a pan going with a good amount of olive oil.  As I stared at these potato-strip-covered patties, I wondered how I was going to transfer these things from my jelly board into the oil.  The whipped egg-white “glue” was not exactly the most reassuring of bonding agents.  I was worried.

I carefully placed the potato burgers into the pan.  As you can see, I had some collateral damage going, and lost most of wrapping on the sides.  I took a mental note for next time (rather, burgergal watched and told me): get more potatoes going, so that they are veritably smothered in potato… enough has got to stick.  I also thought that using the egg white as part of a dredging process could work, too.  I’ll have to let everyone know how that goes.

After a few minutes on one side, it was time to flip.  Again, this wasn’t so easy since the “fries” weren’t exactly stuck to the patties like a starchy-tuber-wallpaper.  I got my widest spatulas and did my best.  I lost some potatoes again, but it turned out better than expected.  And, special bonus: the fries had actually crisped up!

They are kinda like meat latkes, aren’t they?  Despite all of my concerns, the smell that was filling the apartment was delightful.  I wish I could send it along to you all, because it smelled like a mix of burgers on a griddle, fries in a frier, and the smell of a garlicky vinaigrette that burgergal was making for the healthy component of the dish, the salad on the side.  From the stovetop, the burgers went into the oven to finish cooking through.  About ten minutes later, we had some perfect medium-cooked hamburgers.  I let them rest on a rack for a few minutes, then plated them up.

The burger-fry cocoon was delicious, I must say.  It had all of the satisfying traits of a hamburger and fries, just without the squishy bun, which I did not miss (too much).  Through some of the errors of my ways, I think that I will be able to hit this one out of the park next time.

Blogging for (Camping) Burgers. A guest post.

I just got back from an off-site meeting that had the word “innovate” peppered in like a steak au poivre, so it’s time for a blogging for burgers first– a guest post!  That’s right, you all don’t have to listen to me rant and rave (for once).  The below post was inspired by a recent trip to upstate NY and features a solid camping burger for all y’all who like to sleep in tents.  BB prefers 1000-count sheets.  And now, without further ado, I present to you, campingwithburgers:

Hello Blogging for Burgers fans!  Your regular host has graciously invited me to share my latest burger experience.  While I can’t claim to be the mega fan that he and Burgergal are, I do enjoy a tasty burger (preferably with cheese and relish), especially if cooked over a grill and eaten alongside a beer and a campfire.

Despite a greater chance of rain and cooler temperatures, October is my favorite time to go camping.  Needless to say upstate NY is beautiful this time of year so it’s a great time to be outdoors in general and after spending a few hours hiking, my friends and I were hungry for burgers.


I have to be honest here; generally we do buy prepackaged patties for camping but I think that is going to have to change.  (If you do go that route, Bubba Burgers or Great American are the general standby’s.) Here is the recipe that changed our camping burger ways:

Pre mix as much as much as possible!  I made sure to pack a baggie of 1 ½ cups bread crumbs, 3 tsp minced garlic, 3 tsp salt, 2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp rosemary.  In a separate baggie was half a chopped red onion.


Using whatever materials are available, mix 2 eggs and 5 tsp of olive oil was beaten in a plastic cup.


For 6 people I used a little less than 2 lbs of beef, flattening on a plate and creating a volcano hole in the center (yes I played with my mashed potatoes as a kid).  A little at a time, I filled the hole with the egg/olive oil mixture and folded into the beef.  I repeated about 4x and there was about a quarter of mix left at the end.


Next came the onions, by spreading evenly over the flattened beef, kneading, and repeating, a relatively even spread of onion was achieved.

Finally, using the same method, an even spread of breadcrumb/spice mix was distributed, kneaded, repeated.


Finally the meat was separated, rolled into balls, and flattened into patties.


At this point I turn over the work to my hubby who likes bbq sauce/mayo as a burger topping and is our group’s general camping grill master.  He cooked over charcoal until browned on both sides (we like medium rare burgers and these were still pink in the middle).


In terms of grilling, we prefer a charcoal grill over propane.  Never pour lighter fluid on charcoal to get it going or your burgers will be gross.  In fact anything you cook on that charcoal will taste like lighter fluid.  If you use any form of match light charcoal, make sure you let the lighter fluid burn off entirely before putting the burgers on the grill or else same problem.  The charcoal should be gray but still hot, not black or flaming.

Finally, the hungry hikers’ burgers were ready and eaten with relish.  Ok, I was the only one with literal relish on my burger, the rest of the group just found the burgers savory and delicious, particularly the flavor added by the onion.


[Editor’s note– look at that cheese!  That’s perfection on a bun, ladies and gentlemen.  Special thanks to LM for rockin’ the post out today.  Let me know next time you’re going camping, I’ll be sure to take the ‘chopper in for a special landing for lunch, then take off before the wildlife comes out.]

It's time to go to burger school.

Self-taught burger school that is.  I consider it to be like my GED.  I have no formal training in the art of hamburger making, but I read about them a lot and I enjoy eating them even more.

I was inspired by this post on AHT, which, by the way, is the first post to show up on Google if you google “Minetta Tavern Burger.”  Those guys are good.  Damned good.  I want their SEO agency to work for b4b.

So I decided that I was going to do my own photojournal of me making a burger.  Sounds simple enough, but it’s actually kind of a PITA.  Making sure the lighting is right, getting the camera all set up, prepping, cooking, focusing, pushing the button, making sure my hair looks good even though my head is nowhere near any of the shots, the list goes on forever.

So, without further adieu, I present the bloggingforburgers photojournal, dated September 27th, 2009.  I know, the post is being written on September 29th.  Sue me.

The Day prior: Union Squre

Burgergal and I had to hit up the Union Square Farmer’s market to gather the essential supplies.  And take some pretty pictures.

Oooh, pretty.

Oooh, pretty.
Also pretty

Also pretty

You guessed it-- pretty!
You guessed it– pretty!
Pretty and cool.  They look like little watermelons but taste nothing like a big watermelon.
Pretty and cool. They look like little watermelons but taste nothing like a big watermelon.  They are little cucumbers.  And magic.

Come to think of it, I didn’t take any pictures of the supplies that I needed for the burgers.  This is probably mostly because I didn’t need them from the farmer’s market.  I just wanted to show off how sensitive and artsy I am through the camera lens.  I know what you’re thinking.

Yes, I am perfect.

Oh, but guess who I finally got to see again!!  Yeah, my boys from the Ronnybrook Farm.  Whatup!


Walked over to Ottomanelli to get some fresh ground chuck.  I know that bloggers in the ole blogosphere have mixed thoughts about Ottomanelli, but I am a fan.  They always do right by me when I head over there.  I got about a pound, so that BG and I could rock a couple of half-pound burgers, just like Minetta does.  Yes, I do have a weird obsession and want to do everything just like Minetta Tavern.

BG walked over and picked up a bag of brioche buns for the beefy perfection that I was going to be cooking up on the griddle.

I made two patties, loosely packed, and generously seasoned them with salt and pepper.


Then i threw them on the griddle, which I think is the best place for burgers to be cooked– otherwise, you don’t get an of that crispy exterior and you don’t get any of that sizzlin’ action.  Speaking of…


Minetta uses clarified butter- I used just the regular kind.  It worked pretty well.  I overcooked the burgers a touch, but they were still solid.


Don’t they look fake?

By the way, got wind of a potential trip to Minetta in my future (two weeks, actually).  You KNOW what I’m getting.

Next time you're hitting the grill…


I started making this burger about five years ago, inspired by a copy of Bon Appétit that was laying in the office mailroom.  It was probably the best looking hamburger I had seen in my life to that moment.  Its soft potato bun contrasted sharply with the dark caramelized beef and andouille sausage patty and golden brown caramelized onions, accented even further with a dollop of– is that blue cheese???  I had to make this burger.

I first perused the list of ingredients: pecans, andouille sausage, ground chuck for the patties.  Pickled okra, watercress, caramelized onions, chipotle mayo, blue cheese for the accoutrements.  And that delicious squishy potato bun.  I decided to make my own version, since I had no interest in finding out where to buy pickled okra (this was back before Rick’s Picks put everything under the sun in a brine and sold it at the farmer’s market for six bucks).

I first caramelized the onions, since I knew that would take a while to do.  They weren’t getting as sweet as I wanted, so I decided to add some maple syrup.  “Why not,” I asked myself.

“Whyyyyy,” I asked myself when the finished product tasted like the bottom of a trash can at IHOP.  So I redid those (luckily I had an extra couple of onions), and went back on my merry way.

I toasted the pecans, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they didn’t burn.  The great pecan incident of 2001 lingered fresh in my mind.  The apartment smelled like a burned out brush fire for days.  That was really a hit with the ladies.  Once the pecans were done, maybe 15 minutes later, I ground them up and added them to a mixture of ground chuck and andouille sausage.  A touch of salt and pepper later, I was ready to make some patties.

Now, the art of patty-making is one of which I am not a master.  They are either: a) too thin; b) too small; c) too fat, and end up swelling up like meatballs; or d) perfection.  So, in this area, I cannot really tell you what to do.  No matter what shape they are, they taste good, so don’t let a few misshapen burgers stop you.

Now that the patties were done, it was time to hit the grill.  I got the grill to a nice medium-high temperature– if you can hold your hand over the coals for about 3-4 seconds, you’re probably golden.  The grill is going to get hotter when the fat starts rendering off the patties, anyway, so if it’s a little cool at this point, that’s just fine.

I threw the patties on for about 4 minutes a side, so they were a perfect medium rare.  The andouille sausage is pre-cooked, so I wasn’t too concerned about that (although my OCD forced me to check the label around 50 times).  After I took the patties off, I let them rest on a tray for a few minutes, so that all of the juices could gather themselves.  In the meantime, I grilled up the buns for a minute per side (the grill gets pretty hot, so careful not to burn them).

Once this was done, I was ready for assembly.  First, a little of mayo on the bottom bun.  Then, the patty, topped with a little blue cheese, and then some of those caramelized onions, and then the watercress.  Then, just for kicks, throw on a couple of pickles (or pickled okra, if you have hit the market lately), and a dollop of chipotle mayo (just mix mayo with as much chipotle as you like, it’s a personal thing).  Place the bun on top and prepare to have your mind blown.

Needless to say, these burgers are a hit.  I’ve made them probably around 25 times by this point, and they never fail.  Now I’ve gotta run– I smell some pecans burning!

The original recipe as featured in Bon Appétit can be found here.