By Judyrae Kruse Herald Columnist
Umpteen years of cooking here at home and eating there and at other homes have pretty much convinced me that burgers are always the top pick during our three-day weekends, starting with the upcoming Memorial Day celebrations.
Most other times, too, any time really, that the weather around here permits. Whether you’re an old, old hand at barbecued-burger specialties, or a hoping-for-the-best, brand-new rookie to this outdoor cooking method, we have a pair of recipes designed to work well for both longtimers and novices. Yes!
The folks at Weber, for instance, not only share a recipe for the following saucy lamb burger, but share these invaluable tips:
“Avoid a burger that looks like a hockey puck with a swollen belly by making a small depression in the middle of the uncooked burger before you grill. This indentation will prevent the burgers from swelling up and rounding out while cooking.”
Next great Weber tip: “Oil the food, not the grates. If you oil your grates, you are essentially gluing your food to them.
“The oil burns quickly on the hot cooking grates and becomes sticky, ‘gluing’ uncoated food to the grates. When you oil the food, it keeps the juices inside the food, it promotes caramelization and prevents sticking.”
That said, let’s try their:
Saucy lamb burger with sun-dried tomato-feta spread
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 bottle hickory smoked barbecue sauce, divided
1 package (1.3 ounces) onion soup mix, divided in half
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon hickory smoked barbecue sauce
3 dashes Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
8 plump, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced
1 red onion, cut into thick slices
4 hard rolls or favorite buns, split in half
Mix meat with 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce and half of the package of onion soup mix. Form meat into 4 patties and brush each patty with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Meanwhile, mix the rest of the onion soup mix with the cream cheese, Feta, the remaining 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, liquid pepper seasoning and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
Just before grilling, remove both meat and tomato spread from refrigerator.
Grill burgers over direct medium heat until the meat is no longer pink (8 to 10 minutes), turning once halfway through grilling time. Remove burgers from grill onto clean platter.
Meanwhile, if desired, grill the rolls or buns over direct heat until lightly toasted.
Place the burger on bottom bun and top with a dollop of cheese spread and a slice of red onion. Replace top of buns and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Now for a totally terrific different take on barbecued burgers, shared by chef Heather Hunsaker, at www.foodonthetable.com. She also offers us not just a zippy recipe, but some tips as well.
“Chill the meat for 20 to 30 minutes before forming the patties,” she directs. “This step is crucial, since warm fat will easily melt while forming the patties, thus causing a dry burger.
“After the meat has rested and chilled, divide into equal patties. Wet hands with cold water and shape beef into 3/4-inch-thick patties. While shaping, gently form a small dimple in the center. This prevents the burger from “puffing up’ while it cooks, making for an even burger.
“Do not season burgers with salt and pepper until after forming the patties and right before cooking. Wait until the burgers have cooked for the final 3 minutes before topping with cheese, but while the burger is still on the grill.”
Heather’s take on the topic starts with the basics for a classic beef burger, but she jumps it up with jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic and Cajun seasoning.
If you want to take it up a notch, substitute chipotle taco seasoning for the Cajun, and give the beef mixture a few jolts of your favorite liquid-pepper seasoning.
She calls her creation:
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
4 slices pepper jack cheese
4 hamburger buns, split
Salt and pepper, as needed
Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and pickles
In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly the Cajun seasoning, ground beef, jalapeno, onion, garlic and Worcestershire. Chill meat for at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes, then divide into 4 equal-size balls and form into 3/4-inch-thick patties.
Lightly oil the grilling surface and place patties on a hot grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until well done. During the last 2 minutes, lay a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Serve on buns with desired choice of toppings. Makes 4 servings.
The next Forum will appear in Friday’s comics pages.