Monday, June 14, 2010

Bluegrass Beercheese Burgers

I will freely admit to swiping this from an episode of somethingorother from Food Network a couple of years ago. Joanna and I were astonished at how good it was. I made some changes to the recipe, however:

1. We didn't use bacon as neither of us are big bacon fans.
2. We had a few drops of some ancient Jim Bean we used, but I'd reccomend a newer batch of bourbon.
3. The beer. Keep in mind that this is an american recipe. Therefore your beer should be american beer. I know, I know, the stuff is garbage. But the flavor won't be right if you use good stuff. We had a bottle of Budweiser in the fridge from god knows when that we used, and it ended up being fantastic. It wasn't flat, but it didn't really matter.
4.Texas toast is all well and good but if you can't get it, use some nice rolls.
5. Poblano peppers are mildly spicy. If you can't get them, try to get something with a touch of a kick to it.
6. When we made this, we forgot to glaze the burgers and ended up pouring the glaze on top before we ate it. It was delicious, so don't freak out if you forgot.

Prep time: ~20 mins
Cook time: ~30 mins
Serves: 6

  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 poblano pepper, julienne
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienne

Bourbon BBQ Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon spicy steak sauce (recommended: A1 Bold and Spicy Steak Sauce)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flat beer
  • 2 pounds freshly ground chuck
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing grill
  • 12 slices Texas Toast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay out bacon strips on rimmed baking sheet pan, lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake until brown and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Alternately, bacon can also be cooked in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Preheat a gas grill, charcoal grill, or indoor grill to medium-high heat.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside remaining butter for bread. Saute onions and both peppers until soft and caramelized.

Meanwhile, combine ketchup, barbecue sauce, bourbon, mustard, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a light simmer and continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and sauce is thick, about 3 to 4 minutes.

For Beercheese, combine first 5 ingredients in food processor, and with machine running, drizzle in beer until mixture is smooth and well combined.

Divide ground chuck into 6 square-shaped patties, approximately the size of Texas toast. Season with salt and pepper. Brush grill with vegetable oil. Place patties on grill and cook, turning once until done, approximately 5 to 7 minutes until desired doneness. Once flipped, brush tops of patties with BBQ glaze.

Meanwhile, lightly butter both sides of each slice of Texas toast and grill on either side for 1 to 2 minutes along outer edges of grill, until lightly browned and toasted.

To assemble, spread 6 slices of Texas toast liberally with beercheese, approximately 2 tablespoons per slice. Top with bacon strips and burger patties. Top burgers with caramelized onion and pepper mixture. Spread the remaining slices of toast with additional BBQ glaze, about 1 tablespoon per slice, and invert onto burger patties. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

No, this has nothing to do with the movie. I recently was forced to pick almost a dozen of my tomatoes green because they had suffered from Blossom End Rot. Essentially the whole tomato is still green, but the bottom tip begins to rot, while still on the stem. Nothing can be done for these, and it is reccomended you just prune them and throw them out. But I hate to waste food, and I was still upset at the loss. And I figured, all I really needed to do was chop off the bottom and the rest was fine. But what the hell could I do with green tomatoes? Well, I only really know one recipe for green tomatoes, and that's to fry them.

I'm normally not a fan of fried green tomatoes. Generally they are greasy, and/or the tomatoes are cooked in a high heat (I'll get to this) so that the outside is crispy, but the inside is still hard. Let alone, I've never seen or heard of anyone frying tomatoes this small. So I'll tell you right now that they came out utterly gorgeous.

To start, slice your tomatoes into medallions and lay them flat on a paper towel. Lightly spinke salt over all of the tomatoes, then allow to sit for 10 minutes. This will help draw excess moisture from the tomatoes. While they sit, you can prepare the batter. In one bowl, pour white flour. This is stage one. In the second bowl, beat two eggs and a dollop of milk (maybe a couple of tablespoons worth). This is stage two. In the third bowl, mix equal parts breadcrumbs and cornmeal, a little cayenne pepper, a dash of salt and pepper. This is stage three.

Pat your tomatoe medallions gently with a paper towel, then dredge them in the flour. Follow this with a dip in the egg mixture. This part can be twicky, and the egg mixture won't want to stick too easily to the flour. Once that's done, transfer the tomato to the breadcrumb/cornmeal mix and coat. Once that's done, put the tomatoes on a plate and let them rest a good 5-10 minutes.

While they rest, take out a frying pan. You'll want to add enough oil to go 1/2 to 3/4th up the tomato slices, but not cover them completely. I think I ended up using ~1/2-3/4ths of a cup, but my tomatoes were cut fairly thinly. Into the oil, add a pat of butter. Heat the oil on medium. This is important. At medium, the outside will crisp, but the tomato itself will also cook so that it softens and becomes delicious. At high heat, the outside will crisp much more quickly, but the inside will still be raw. If you've ever tried eating raw green tomato, you know it isn't too tasty. And it's also fairly hard, so it isn't easy to eat. So, medium heat. How do you know when the oil is ready? The butter will melt and start to sing. That is, the butter will stop melting and actually start to gently fizzle. That's when it is time to add your tomatoes.

Whether small or large, the tomatoes will take about 4 minutes on each side to get a golden brown. While they cook, you can make your southern tartar sauce to go with it. What's that? Equal parts sweet relish, mayo, and a few dashes of hot sauce (not enough to make it hot, just to add to the flavor a little). Personally though I'm more a fan of sweet relish than I am of mayo, so I add a little extra relish. You can choose whatever you want.

Once your tomatoes have cooked, flipped, and cooked, take them out with a spatulo and lay them on a paper-towel covered plate. You can eat them from there- I reccomend you don't drizzle the sauce over them but rather you dip the tomatoes into the sauce, or take a little on your fork and dab it on each piece.

The nice thing about using these young baby tomatos, actually, is that they become a fingerfood and a really nice snack. For such tiny things, they are a lot of work, but I swear it is actually worth it. Take a look for yourself: