Hello SFCB from the noob food writer! Since this is my first post, I guess something by way of an introduction is in order.
I'm Mich, a life-long food enthusiast and culinary MacGyver who loves to play with my food. I started cooking (well, being humored by the ever-patient women of my family, anyway) around the age of six and have been hooked ever since. Over those 35+ odd years, I've picked up some pretty useful tricks and come up with some interesting recipes that I love nothing more than sharing with anyone who cares to listen.
Now, on with the good stuff! The FOOD!
A person would need to be blind to not notice the number of gourmet burger places popping up pretty much everywhere. Sure, it's nice to just hop out for a burger now and then and extra nice if you can get a fussed-over chichi version, too. But what really kind of gets me about the trend is the sheer numbers, numbers that suggest there is quite a huge market for burgers at an oft-times bordering on steak price. Is there, really?
I suppose what surprises me more is that there are not more people just staying home and having fun creating their own versions. At home, there is not the "burger nazi", the chef who will (rather infamously here in LA food circles) not allow any drops or substitutions on your burger. There is not the munchkin Chinese soup spoon of "gourmet" ketchup (another LA hotspot point of infamy), with an extra price tag if you'd actually like more than a thimble-ful for your fries. And, let's be honest here, for those of us who appreciate irony rather than "ironic" irony, there will be no hipster hordes to try to hear yourself think over. And we haven't even talked about the money yet.
Kinda sounds like at least a couple of decent reasons to give gourmet burgers at home a whirl, anyway! Why not, right? It's really easy and will save more food budget for the stuff that's REALLY worth paying to not need to make yourself.
Here are a few yummy variations to play with ...
Spicy Chile Beef Burger
(We just made this burger last night and it was deadly tasty!)
(makes 4 burgers)
1 lb ground beef (usually $1.99/# or less)
4 slices pepper jack cheese (1/2 of 8 oz pkg @$3.00)
2 individual ciabatta rolls (or 4 burger-sized rolls) (about $2.00)
4 TBSP tomato paste (you should probably already have a jar of this in your fridge ... this is probably about $0.25 worth, if that)
tapatío sauce (or some sort of picante sauce)
1 small can of mild green chiles (about $1.00)
granulated garlic, cumin
total cost per burger: $1.685 ... Wow!
1 - Season the meat with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, tapatío, granulated garlic, and cumin. Blend well and pat into four patties.
2 - Do finishing bake on rolls and halve if needed and split open. Mix tomato paste with tapatío to desired spiciness and spread the paste mix on the bottom of the rolls. Add 1/4 of the chiles to each roll
3 - Cook the burgers on a grill-bottomed pan and add cheese to melt after flipping (hold a pot lid over if needed to increase top heat for melting). POP ON ROLL & EAT!
Turkey Burgers with Greek goodies
(makes 4 burgers)
1 lb ground turkey meat (averages $2.00/#)
1 sourdough baguette ($3.00, tops)
1 pkg of goat cheese - chevre 4 oz ($1.99)
2 red peppers - fire roasted or *if you must* jarred red pepper ($2.00, even if you live someplace really pricey)
1 cucumber - peeled, shredded, and drained with a sprinkle of salt ($1.00 at most)
1 cup yogurt strained of excess liquid or Greek or Middle Eastern if available ($1.00 at most)
1 head of garlic - roasted ($.25 + cost of 1/2 can of broth to roast in ... let's say $0.75)
1 lemon ($0.50 maybe?)
kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, oregano
total cost per burger: $3.06
1 - Start roasting the garlic while prepping other ingredients.
2 - Mix the drained cucumber shreds into the yogurt and squeeze in a bit of lemon juice until you like the acidity. Store in fridge to let it set up.
3 - Fire roast the peppers on the stove top if you have a gas range. Otherwise, if you're pretty careful and coordinated (with a good, long pair of tongs), you can use a chef's torch to blacken the skin. If not, you probably want to just buy the freshest roasted peppers you can get your mitts on.
4 - Season meat with salt, pepper and oregano. Add in 1/2 of the roasted garlic and mix well, then form slim patties to fit in baguette.
5 - Cook until just done to not dry the meat, then assemble.
6 - Spread the chevre on the bottom of the baguette sections, the remaining roasted garlic on the tops. Lay 1/2 of a roasted pepper over the chevre, then put the burger on top. Top with the yogurt/cucumber sauce.
Banh Mi Pork Burgers
(makes 4 burgers)
4 carrots - shredded (maybe $0.50)
1/2 lb daikon radish - shredded *or regular radish if not available* ($1.00 tops)
1 cup white or cider vinegar (to be generous, maybe $0.75)
1/4 sugar (negligible cost)
1 TBSP kosher salt (negligible cost)
2 cups warm water (negligible cost)
1 lb. ground pork (probably $2.00/# or less - if not available, get boneless country strips and have ground at the meat counter)
1 sourdough baguette ($3.00 tops)
2 bunches cilantro - 1 leaves only finely chopped and the other left whole ($1.00, even at the most pricey market)
6 cloves garlic - finely minced ($0.25 at most)
1 shallot - finely minced ($0.50 even in the most pricey place)
1 bunch scallions - finely chopped ($0.50)
1 tsp - TBSP fish sauce - only you will know how much fish sauce you want ... when in doubt, go light and sprinkle more on top when you've tasted the meat (negligible cost)
Asian hot pepper sauce - like sriracha (negligible cost)
mayonnaise (negligible cost)
ground fresh ginger
total cost per burger: $2.375
(About even money if you have a great banh mi place nearby, but great if you don't or just want to make it just the way you like it for the cost of the cheapest of the cheap Viet joints.)
1 - The night before, put the carrot and radish into a container, measure the sugar and salt into a bowl and add the water, stirring until dissolved before adding the vinegar. Pour the brining mix over the veggies, seal up, and store in the fridge until you're ready to build your burgers.
2 - Mix the pork with the chopped cilantro and scallion, garlic, shallot, fish sauce and about a TBSP of sriracha. **If you dig the funky flavors of pho, try sprinkling in just a bit of clove and anise. If you want to add a bit of Thai twanginess, try grating just a little knob of fresh ginger and adding some finely chopped basil into the mix instead. The cool thing about making it yourself is that you can do whatever you prefer.** Form into long, slim baguette-shaped patties.
3 - Cook until just done through and set aside to drain while assembling the sandwich.
4 - Mix little bits of sriracha and fish sauce into the mayonnaise until it's the taste you like. Spread that on both sides of the baguette sections. Add the pork patty and top with the pickled veggies (strained well through a slotted spoon) and generous sprigs of the whole cilantro.
What are some of your favorite at-home gourmet burgers?