I was asked to be a substitute blogger for the Flavors Blog. For those not familiar with Flavors, it's a blogging community where each week participants must develop a dish using a specific ingredient along with possible flavor enhancers as outlined in the book The Flavor Bible. Confused? Take a look here: http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/flavors/2011/09/we_are_a_group_of.html
So, here's my entry using "Beef."
Burgers seem to be the new thing, at least as reported by the food press and bloggers. From New York to Paris, the humble burger has been tarted up enough to command ridiculous prices.
I used to not like burgers. They were dry, hard, a waste of calories. Seriously, I made a veggie burger when we had beef burgers on the grill.And then my husband Larry was given a subscription to Cooks Illustrated, and because of his engineering background became glued to the obsessive-compulsive search for the perfect techniques in cooking. He went through classic French and Italian recipes involving multiple trips to stores, piles of pots in the sink, and dinner served by 8:30 if we were lucky.
He discovered grinding his own meat for burgers. And Gentle Reader, I am now a convert.
Grinding your own beef results on a tender texture, juices oozing out of a flavorful pile of meat. Home-ground burgers cook quickly on a hot skillet, and you can dress them up or down as you like. For this excursion, we decided to make a tarted up burger, one that if served in a New York restaurant would command an insane price. From the Flavor Bible, I used onions, thyme, red wine, arugula, and a small jar of summer truffles in the pantry sealed the deal. If you don't like or don't have access to truffles, your home-ground burgers will still be amazing.
Fancypants Truffled Burgers
Makes 6 burgers, which freeze well uncooked
2 lbs beef--we like to use 1 lb chuck and 1 lb boneless short rib
3 large onions, sliced
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
2Tbs. red wine
salt and pepper
1 Tbs. sliced black truffles (jarred Summer truffles are fine. Use the rest of the jar to top buttered fresh pasta, and invite me over)
Cheese--a mild blue cheese; or a nice nutty gruyere, sliced very thinly
Good quality buns--Whole Foods make a brioche bun with black pepper that is ruinously expensive but worth it
1. Pour yourself a nice drink. I suggest a classic vodka martini.
2. Slice the onions and saute in the oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes until deep golden brown but not burned. Add the thyme and wine, season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Cut the meat into cubes, then put the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until quite firm but not totally frozen.
4. Using the steel blade of a food processor, put small batches of the meat into the bowl and pulse until just chopped. Empty onto a cookie sheet as you go,
5. Very gently form the chopped meat into loose burgers. You just want to tenderly gather the meat together, not press it.
6. Toast the buns. Stir the truffles into the onion mixture and turn off the heat.
7. Heat a thick skillet on high. Place the burgers on the sizzling hot surface, and turn after 1-2 minutes. Add the cheese, and cook another 1-2 minutes until desired doneness. If you want them any more than medium rare, I do not want to hear about it.
8. Place the burgers on a bun half, very lightly sprinkle with good salt, top with the onion/truffle mixture, add arugula. Ketchup if you must. A bit of tomato if desired.
9. Inhale. Roasted potatoes with rosemary on the side are nice, and a little salad to appease your arteries.
10. Fight over who gets to finish the leftover onion-truffle mixture.