Thursday, July 15, 2010

Burgers Again!

Lemons & Rosemary

I don’t know what it is about this city, but it seems like ever since we moved to Chicago, I can’t eat enough burgers.  There are incredible burger restaurants everywhere around here, and I think Ben and I have tried most of them.  Lord knows we’re trying.  And we cook burgers all the time at home too.  Not to sound braggy, but I really, really love my own homemade burgers, maybe even more than all the rest.  And I wouldn’t be so boastful as to say this about most foods, but honestly, I think I’m a little bit gifted at burgers ;). 

Truly though, it’s easy for anyone to be gifted at burgers.  You just need to use great ingredients (perfectly ripe tomatoes, wonderfully fatty beef, fresh-baked buns, sharp cheeses, crisp lettuce) and follow a few simple tricks (always butter and toast your buns, never over-handle the ground beef, make sure to generously season the burgers with salt and pepper, and don’t ever over-cook them).  Seriously, follow these few easy rules (and a few more you’ll find in this week’s and last week’s recipes) and you too will be a burger genius.

Fish Hash with  Crostini & Vegetable Crudités
Rosemary Lemonade Vodka Spritzers
Pork-Chorizo-Bacon Burgers with Manchego Cheese, Romesco Sauce, Aioli & Arugula
  Creamy Coleslaw
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Triple-Layer Raspberry Pie

This week we had our neighbors, Freddie and Marshall, over for dinner. Marshall is a chef too, and so of course I felt a little extra pressure this week to make something extra fabulous.  The most fabulous thing I could think of were these Pork-Chorizo-Bacon Burgers.  It’s a recipe of one of my favorite chefs, Suzanne Goin.  I’ve already shared a few recipes from her cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which is definitely in my ‘top five favorite cookbooks’ list.  And this great twist-of-a-burger recipe is definitely one of my favorites too.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I’ll get back to these amazing sounding pork burgers in a minute, but first let me tell you about this way-more-amazing-than-it-sounds fish hash. 

My friend Ralph dictated this recipe to me over the phone a little while ago.  It seems every time we talk, I end up scrambling for the nearest pen and piece of scrap paper, wedging the phone between my left shoulder and ear, and hurriedly scribbling down some great new recipe.  I’ve got a stash of these Ralph-recipes, all in messy handwriting on post-its and envelops and backs of receipts.  It’s a messy collection, but a priceless one.  Now that I think about it, I’m going to put my phone conversations with Ralph in my ‘top five cookbook’ list too.  Anyways, back to this hash.  Oh my gosh, this is nothing but delicious!  It isn’t delicious sounding.  And it isn’t delicious looking.  But it beyond a doubt, it’s delicious tasting. 


The main ingredients – onions, celery, garlic, sardines, anchovies, black pepper.  I know that sounds scary to some of you.  Anchovies and especially sardines have a very bad reputation.  But listen.  Forget everything you’ve heard.  These little fish are nothing to be afraid of.  They aren’t slimy or scaly or fishy tasting.  They’re tender and subtly sweet and beautifully fresh tasting.  And they’re absolutely sublime in this fantastic hash.  The onions and celery and garlic are slowly sautéed in a little bit of olive oil, cooked long and slow over a low flame until they’re meltingly tender.  Then the canned fish is added and cooked again in the same patient way, until it too just melts into the tender vegetables.  And then, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and I mean lots.  It’s all too easy, and the end result is all too good.  On salty rounds of crisp toasted bread, or with crunchy fresh radishes and bell peppers, this delicious conglomeration makes a perfect start to the meal.  This fish has is one of my newest favorites, and I guarantee, it will be one of yours too.

With the fish hash I served some beautiful cocktails of rosemary-infused sparkling lemonade, spiked with ice cold vodka.  Another recipe I jotted down during another phone call with Ralph (who himself found it on Epicurious), this beverage was really lovely.  So refreshing.  And refreshingly light on the liquor.  It’s a perfect cocktail for a hot summer night, or even afternoon.  Even without the vodka, this drink would be wonderful, a sparkling, sophisticated twist on lemonade.

Dried Peppers

Back to these burgers.  Where do I start?  With the burger itself, a flavorful mix of ground pork, chorizo sausage, chopped bacon, and aromatic seasonings of shallot, garlic, thyme, cumin and chile, charcoal grilled, incredibly juicy and filled with huge flavor?  Or with the bun, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil then grilled, so that’s it’s warm crispness comes through with every bite?  Or the fantastically nutty Manchego cheese, oozing into all the nooks and crannies of the burgers?  Or the peppery green arugula, one of the greatest flavors ever?  Or the garlicky aioli, all creamy and smooth?  Or maybe I should start with the romesco sauce, a rustic Spanish sauce of caramelized tomatoes, smoky peppers, sweet garlic, toasty hazelnuts and almonds. Mellow, sweet, pungent and smoky, this sauce is amazing all on its own, but it's beyond incredible on these burgers.  The whole of this burger is even more awesome than the sum of its already awesome parts.  Really, next time you think about grilling up some regular old beef burgers, think about these guys instead.  You’ll be hooked. 

Shredded Cabbages & Carrots Coleslaw

So much is going on already in these burgers, I needed some simple sides.  I’d made the mistake before of serving these hugely flavorful burgers with other hugely flavorful sides, but it all turned out to be just way too much.  All the flavors ended up competing for the spotlight, shoving each other out of its beam, trying to hog it all for themselves.  These burgers deserve to be the star of their own show, and really should be served with some humble, non-flashy supporting sides.  Grilled corn on the cob and this simple but tasty creamy coleslaw fit the bill. 

This coleslaw too came from Suzanne Goin’s cookbook.  It’s my official go-to coleslaw recipe, definitely un-flashy, but truly delicious.  As pretty as can be, it nearly spans the rainbow - red and green cabbage, shredded carrots, sliced red onions and giant handfuls of parsley and chives.  Cloaked in a creamy sauce of red wine vinegar, mayonnaise and honey, this gorgeous slaw is good to the very last bite.  Flashy no, but delicious, definitely.  And the corn too.  How can grilled corn on the cob be anything but incredible?  Cooked over hot coals until the husks are charred and the corn itself is sweet and tender and perfectly blistered, rolled in butter, with salt and pepper to taste, this grilled corn on the cob is simply heaven.    

Grilling Corn on the Cob

For dessert, another one of my favorite summer recipes, triple layer raspberry pie.  I’m a bit upset, because I was having just the worst time with my camera the other day, and couldn’t get a good picture of this pie to save my life.   The picture below shows you more or less what the end result looks like, but it doesn’t nearly do justice to this beautiful triple-tiered confection.  The buttery shortbread-like crust with its pretty fluted edges is gorgeous in itself.  But the three layers of filling are just unbelievably stunning – the deep pink bottom layer of sweet and tart jam, studded with fresh raspberries, the middle layer of light pink creamy chiffon, and the cloudlike top layer of fresh whipped cream.  I really wish I’d gotten a better picture, to really show off the prettiness of this pie.  And listen to me go on and on about its looks, as if that were all-important.  If I learned anything from the fish has, it’s that looks don’t count for anything.  Only taste matters.  Well, needless to say, this pie tastes beautiful too.  Ridiculously beautiful.  Won’t-believe-your-taste-buds beautiful.  Try-it-for-yourself-and-soon beautiful!


Rosemary Lemonade Vodka Spritzers
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, May 2009
Serves 8
Rosemary Lemonade Vodka Spritzer
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 rosemary sprigs, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup vodka
club soda or seltzer, cold
Combine lemon juice, sugar and 2 rosemary sprigs in a small saucepot.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and cool completely, about 1 hour.  Discard rosemary sprigs.
Fill 8 8-oz drinking glasses half-way with ice.  Divide the lemon syrup among the glasses, 2 tablespoons per glass.  Add 1 tablespoon of vodka to each glass. Top off each glass with the club soda/seltzer.  Garnish each glass with a rosemary sprig.  

Fish Hash
Adapted from my friend Ralph’s mom, Diane Klotzbaugh
Serves 4
Fish Hash
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cans skinless,boneless sardines, packed in olive oil
1 can anchovies, packed in olive oil
Lots and lots of ground black pepper
In a large sauté pan over medium-low to medium heat, sweat the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil until translucent and meltingly tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Add the sardines and anchovies, along with their oil, to the pan.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the fish a bit with the back of a wooden spoon, until the fish appear to melt into the vegetables, and most of the liquid gets absorbed, about 20 minutes more.  Season really generously with tons of ground black pepper.  Serve hot with crostini and vegetable crudités. 

Pork-Chorizo-Bacon Burgers
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Makes 6 burgers
Pork-Chorizo-Bacon Burger with Manchego Cheese, Romesco Sauce, Aioli & Arugula
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for toasting the buns and grilling the burgers
2 large shallots, diced
1 Tbl minced garlic
1 Tbl thyme, chopped
2 dried chiles de arbol, thinly sliced
2 # ground pork
1/4 # fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed
3 oz bacon, finely diced
2 Tbl flat-leaf parsley, chopped
6 sliced Manchego cheese
6 brioche or challah buns
Aioli (see recipe below)
Romesco Sauce (see recipe below)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toast the cumin seeds over medium heat in a medium-sized sauté pan, for a few minutes, until the seeds darken slightly and become aromatic.  Coarsely grind the toasted cumin seeds in a spice grinder.
Place the sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, and then the shallots to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots start to soften, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, sliced chile and ground cumin.  Season with salt and pepper and cook another 3-5 minutes, until the shallots become translucent.  Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, and using clean hands, gently combine the ground pork, chorizo, bacon, shallot mixture, chopped parsley and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Make sure to combine the ingredients gently, so as not to over-work the meat, which would toughen the burgers.  Shape the meat into six 6-ounce patties, shaping each one loosely into a ball until it just comes together, and then gently flattening it slightly to form a patty.  Chill in the refrigerator if not grilling right away.  In fact, these benefit from a rest in the refrigerator.  Make them up to one day ahead, to allow the flavors to meld together.
Preheat the grill to very hot, about 30 minutes. Here’s a way to tell if your grill is at the right temperature.  Hold your hand right over it.  If you you can keep it there for five seconds, it’s not hot enough.  If you can’t hold it there for even half a second, it's too hot.  When the grill is hot, scrape it clean with a metal brush.  Soak a rag or a bunch of paper towels with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, and using tongs, rub it over the grill rack. 

Just before grilling, generously season both sides of each patty with salt and pepper.  Brush the burger patties with olive oil, then arrange the burgers over the hottest area of the grill, over direct heat. Grill, uncovered, without pressing down on the patties (For some reason, people always want to do this.  They think it speeds up the cooking time.  But all it accomplishes is to squeeze out precious juice).  Cook until well seared on the first side, about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the burgers over with a metal spatula, top each with about a slice of Manchego cheese, then continue cooking - about 3-4 more minutes, until the pork is just cooked through.  (It should remain slightly pink in the center.)

Slice the buns in half, then brush the insides evenly with extra-virgin olive oil.  Right after you’re done grilling the burgers, toast the buns on the grill, cut side down, until lightly browned, about a minute. 

Spread aioli on both sides of the bun.  Place a burger, cheese side up, on the bottom bun, then top the burger with a generous dollop of romesco sauce.  Arrange a generous bunch or arugula over the romesco, then top with the top half of the bun.  Serve immediately. 

Romesco Sauce
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Romesco Sauce
2 Tbl almonds
2 Tbl hazelnuts
5 ancho chilies, or other large dried hot chiles
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 slice country white bread, about 1-inch thick
1/3 cup canned whole tomatoes
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbl flat leaf parsley
2 Tbl lemon juice
1 Tbl sherry vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.  Spread the almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until they are golden brown and give off a nutty aroma. 
Remove and discard the stems and seeds from the ancho chiles.  Cover the chiles with warm water and soak for 15 minutes.  Strain, then pat the chiles dry with paper towels.
Heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes.  Add 2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil, and continue to heat the pan 1 minute longer.  Fry the slice of bread until golden brown on both sides.  Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool , then slice it into 1” cubes.
Again place the pan over high heat.  Add 2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil and the chiles.  Sauté for about two minutes, then add the tomatoes.  Season with a generous pinch of salt, then continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato juices evaporate and the tomato colors slightly, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
In a food processor, pulse together the toasted nuts, garlic and cubed bread, processing until coarsely ground.  Add the tomato-chile mixture and process for 1 more minute.  With the machine running, slowly pour in the remaining 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, processing until the puree is smooth.  Add the parsley, lemon juice and sherry vinegar.  Season to taste with salt.  Pulse to combine.  The sauce will keep for two weeks, covered in the refrigerator.  

Makes about 1 cup
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbl lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, add the egg yolk and whisk until slightly foamy.  Slowly add the olive oil then the canola/vegetable oil,  just a few drops at at time, constantly beating with the whisk, until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is thick and smooth, the consistency of mayonnaise.  Add the garlic and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Creamy Coleslaw
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Serves 8
Creamy Coleslaw
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 small head red cabbage (about 1 #), cored and thinly sliced
1/2 small head green cabbage (about 1 #), cored and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 cup mayonnaise
pinch or cayenne pepper
2 Tbl chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Reduce the vinegar by half over medium heat in a small saucepot, then turn off the heat and allow the vinegar to cool about 5 minutes.  Add the honey to the vinegar and stir to dissolve. 
Place the sliced cabbages, onion and carrot in a large mixing bowl, then pour the vinegar-honey mixture over the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper, toss well to combine, then allow the mixture to sit 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Add the mayonnaise, cayenne, chives and parsley and toss well to combine.  Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.  

Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Corn on the Cob
x ears of corn (where x = how many ears of corn you and your friends can eat)
butter, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Pull the husks a little more than half way down the ears of corn.  Remove the silk, and rinse the ears under cool running water to wash away any lingering silk.  Push the husks back up the ears, then tie the tops with kitchen twine.  Cover the ears with cold water and soak at least 30 minutes.
Heat the grill.  When the grill is ready, placed the prepared ears of corn on the grill rack over high heat.  Grill, regularly turning the corn by quarter turns, until the husks are charred all around, about 15-20 minutes.  Serve hot with butter, salt and pepper.

Triple Layer Raspberry Pie
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Summer Entertaining Issue, August 2009
Serves 8-10
Triple Layer Raspberry Pie
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbl sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
For the bottom raspberry layer:
12 oz frozen raspberries (about 2 cups)
3 Tbl pectin (Sure-Jell brand)
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 cup fresh raspberries
For the middle raspberry layer:
3 Tbl raspberry flavored gelatin (Jell-o brand)
3 Tbl boiling water
3 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
1 cup heavy cream, cold
For the top whipped cream layer:
1 1/3 cups heavy cream, cold
2 Tbl sugar
For the crust: Lightly coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Using the electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium-high speed, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.  Add the flour mixture and mix on medium-low until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 15-20 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough forms large clumps, about 20-30 seconds. 
Reserve 3 Tbl of the dough.  Turn the remaining dough onto a lightly floured countertop, gather it into a ball, flatten it into a 6-inch disk using the heel of your hand, then transfer the disk to the greased pie plate.  Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, using the heel of your hand.  Roll the reserved 3 Tbl of dough into a 12-inch rope.  Slice the rope into 3 pieces of equal length, then roll each piece into an 8-inch rope.  Arrange the ropes around the perimeter of the pie plate, squeeze the ropes so they attach to the dough base, then create a fluted edge by pinching the ropes with your fingers.
Wrap the crust in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 325°F, and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.  Lightly prick the bottom of the crust with a for, then bake until golden brown and set, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.
For the bottom raspberry layer: Place the frozen raspberries in a medium-sized saucepot and cook over medium-high heat until the berries thaw and give off their juice, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Add the pectin and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.  Add the sugar and salt and return to a full boil.  Cook, stirring constantly, until just thick, about 2 minutes.  Pour the berry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized bowl.  Press on the solids to extract as much juice as possible, and be sure to scrape the puree off the underside of the sieve into the bowl.
Transfer 1/3 cup of the raspberry puree to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.  Gently fold the fresh raspberries into the remaining puree.  Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pie crust.
For the middle raspberry layer: Place the gelatin the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Pour the boiling water over the gelatin and let the mixture to rest about 3 minutes, to allow the gelatin to dissolve.  Add the cream cheese and the reserved 1/3 cup raspberry puree to the gelatin and water and whisk on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice, until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the 1 cup heavy cream and beat on medium until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl, then beat on high speed until stiff peaks form (When you stick a spoon into the cream and lift it out, the point formed in the cream will stand straight up and not fall over), about 1-2 minutes.  Spread the mixture evenly over the first layer in the pie crust.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
For the top whipped cream layer: When read to serve the pie, make the whipped cream.  Whip the cream to soft peaks (When you stick a spoon into the cream and lift it out, a point will form then droop down after a second or two).  Add sugar and whip to firm peaks (The point formed in the cream will stand straight up and not fall over).  Spread the whipped cream over the chilled filling.  Slice the pie into wedges and serve immediately.

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