Monday, July 11, 2011

A Fantastic Burger And It's Only 2500 Calories, Give Or Take

My wife is out of town for a few days daddy-sitting.  Her dad is nearly ninety, sharp as a tack, but needs some help getting around.  So, I’m riding solo for a few days.  What to do?  I go to the gym and run for three miles.  Then off to the range for a few hours of target shooting.  On the way home, I drag raced on Route 9 with some kid in a rice-burner.  No contest.  All of this mature activity is making me hungry.  Hmmmm, I know, how about a grilled cheese hamburger.  I know what you are thinking--genius!  One of the best, all time comfort foods served with an eight ounce patty,  bacon, tomato, and onion.  I’m on it. 

I’ve been tinkering with my hamburger formula and have come with this blend—40% ground chuck, 40% ground sirloin, 20% ground short rib.    I picked up the chuck and sirloin already packaged and had the butcher grind the short rib.  If you want, pick out the meat in steak form and have the butcher grind and blend it.  They will be happy to do that for you.  When it comes to hamburger, go with an 80/20 fat content.  A 90/10 ratio will be too dry and flavorless.  This is a hamburger, not quinoa!  Go for it!  Then go to the gym!

This hamburger is known as a Fatty Melt, Ultimate Burger, or the Cardiac-Attack Burger. It is appearing in a lot of gourmet burger places.  It also appears at Friendly's.  Suffice to say, this is a serious sandwich.  Serious in terms of fat calories, empty carbs, and so on.  However, I can assure you, the taste is amazing.  Provided this doesn’t go into your meal rotation, I think you can safely eat one or two of these every now then. 

I will be serving the burger with oven-baked fries.  I was too lazy to bust out the deep fryer, so I decided to use my oven.  Don’t worry these fries are tasty and healthy—er.  This feeds two, so plan accordingly.  Did you think I was going to eat the whole thing?

I begin to assemble the troops. For the sandwich—

4 slices of white bread- I used artisan, you can use anything in the pantry
4 strips of bacon
4 slices of American cheese—I think it is un-American to use anything else, but hey it is America, go for it. Though a nice Gruyere would be real tasty!
1 eight ounce hamburger—you can create your own blend, use my blend or just buy some 80/20 ground chuck
1 onion sliced thin
1 tomato sliced
salt and pepper
butter or margarine

For the potatoes—
1 large potato scrubbed
one pot of water
1 TSP of salt
½ TSP of paprika(optional)
1 TBL of vegetable oil
aluminum foil
half sheet pan with sides
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Let’s start with the fries because they will take the longest.  While these are cooking, you can work on the rest of the sandwich.  Make sure you pick a good beer or two to help with the preparation.  I’m sipping a nice Sam Adams Summer Ale. Cooking the potatoes requires  three steps.  The first step is to soak them in slightly salted water.  The potatoes will absorb some of the salty water and get rid of some of the starch. The next step is to steam them in the oven for a few minutes.  This is where the aluminum foil comes into play.  The last step will require roasting.  It’s a bit of work, but the fries come out crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Isn’t that what we want from a French Fry?  I do!

 Slice the potato into ¼ inch slices.  

Place the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water.  Let them sit there for about 15 minutes.

The potatoes are going to absorb some water and salt.  After they are done, drain them and pat dry on paper towels.

Once dry, put them a bowl and drizzle about a tablespoon of oil on them.  Stir until coated.  Now place on a lightly oiled half baking sheet.  Make sure it has sides; you don’t want oil running amok in your oven.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Don’t overdo it.  You can always add more at the table, you cannot take it away. I dust it with paprika too, but that’s my personal preference. 

Now, cover tightly with foil. 

Put the potatoes in the oven for five minutes.  This will partially steam the potatoes.  When time is up, remove the foil, and roast for 10 minutes.  Then turn the potatoes and roast for another 10 minutes.  Depending on the size and type of potato, they may need some more time.  I give them a shookle(shake) after 20 minutes. For this batch I needed five more minutes.  Depending on the size of the slices and type of potato, your cooking time may be a bit different.  Check them frequently after twenty minutes without the foil.  They can go from done to ruined pretty quickly, so be careful. 

While the potatoes are roasting, fry up the bacon.  You know the drill.  Put four slices in the frying pan, crank it up to medium/high heat and put a spatter shield over the pan.  Nothing irritates my wife more than cleaning the cooktop after a marathon frying session.  Since she is in New York with her dad, I get stuck with the clean up detail.  Nothing irritates me more than cleaning up the cooktop…

I loathe undercooked bacon.  I’m sure you do too.  I cook it until crispy and then drain it on some paper towels.  Set it aside in a warm toaster oven.

Slice up the tomatoes and onions.  I go for thick slices of tomato and thin slices of onion.  The tomatoes will add a nice juicy tartness, and the onions some crunch and heat.  Set them aside. 

Now, let’s make the burger.  Begin by assembling two grilled cheese sandwiches.  I put two slices of American Cheese on each sandwich. Depending on your own preference, you can use more, always good, or less if you are health conscience. However, if you have gotten to this part, I don’t think we are worried about healthy eating.  At least not today. 

I butter each side of the sandwiches and set them aside. 

It’s time for the big event.  Heat a skillet on medium/high heat.  When the skillet is ready, place a tablespoon of butter in it, and swill it around.  The butter will give the meat an added layer of richness and flavor.  In for a penny, in for a pound!

Season the burger with salt and pepper.  For medium rare, figure 4 minutes per side, for medium figure 5 minutes per side.  Flip only once and DO NOT PRESS DOWN ON THE PATTY! This will dry it out. 

While the hamburger is cooking, let’s cook the grilled cheese sandwiches.  Heat another skillet to medium/high heat.  When hot, you can either put the sandwiches in or melt a little more butter in the pan and THEN put the sandwiches in.  Your choice. 

Since I am going for maximum flavor here I swirled a little bit of butter into the pan.  Cooking time is tricky.  What I do is peek after two minutes.  If it looks golden brown, flip it.  If not, keep it on a little longer and keep checking.  Once done, flip it.  Again, flip only once.

Cook for another few minutes--until the other side is done. 

Back to the burger.  It’s nearly go time.  I’m going for medium rare, so I flipped it after 4 minutes.  You want a nice crust on the burger. The carmelization of the meat gives it a huge flavor boost and good mouth feel too. 

Cook the burger on the other side until desired doneness.  It’s time for assembly.

Place one of the  grilled cheese sandwiches on a plate.   Add the  burger, tomatoes and onions.

I was thinking about adding some condiments such as ketchup or mayo, but decided that there was already enough flavor.  As always, you can add what you like.  Bacon goes on next and top it with the other grilled cheese sandwich.

 This looks amazing.  The fries are done, so I take them out of the oven and serve them in a bowl lined with paper towels. 

Slice the sandwich in two, and share with your best friend.  Unfortunately my wife is not here so…  No!  I didn’t eat the whole thing.  Only half. 

This is fantastic.  It has about a dozen layers of flavor. The cheese oozing out of the grilled cheese sandwich, combines with the crunchy bacon. The meat is juicy and delicious with a great crust. Add in the tomatoes and onions and this is a winner.  The fries are terrific.  Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside.  Another Sam Adams Summer Ale and I am done.  You really need to try this, if only once. It is a truly epic burger. 

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