Burger Project a New Appreciation

So I always thought that a great burger had to be grilled over hot coals to have the savory and juicy goodness when we think of an awesome hamburger.

Oh lordy was I wrong! Folks please never put limits on yourself as I did. But allow me to back up about 30 years.

Mom, Dad…if you are reading this, please go play solitaire or check your Facebook page for the next 10 minutes. Thanks…
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Ok….so when I was a kid growing up we had burgers on the grill now and then, but mainly they were fried in a stainless steel pan until..well…they were D O N E. Seasoning, funny enough, was mainly salt and pepper. My folks didn’t get fancy with the garlic powder and onion powder till much later. And when when I say cooked till done, I mean they were done in the pan for at least 5 minutes, which means as they sat for 10 minutes while we all got our buns ready and, yes you know what that means…way over done. Of course I never realized this until much later. Resting times were never addressed in the 60’s and 70’s. (No my age is not up for discussion)
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So while my folks didn’t know it, but when frying burgers salt and pepper are the only seasonings you should use. I had no idea my folks were so avant garde.

Let’s get to the awesomeness of the burger for the night. First off we have so many fresh, out of the garden ingredients going on here. The hamburger itself is from the side of beef we bought. Next up we have 3 cucumbers I cut up and pickled for the night in cider vinegar, pickling spice, salt and fresh dill I grew along with homegrown lettuce for our burgers. Next to our dinner is fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a ball squash.

I started by making my pickles so they’d be ready for dinner.

1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water, plus more, if needed
2 teaspoons each: kosher salt, pickling spice
1 large pickling cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch slices

1 Combine cider vinegar with 1/2-cup of water, salt and pickling spice in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil.

2 Place cucumber in a clean, dry glass container just large enough to hold all the slices. Pour boiling brine over cucumber slices to cover completely. If all cucumbers are not submerged, add cold water to cover. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Pickles will keep for about 10 days.

I chilled these for 2 hours before we put them on the burgers. They  had an ever so slight sweetness to them but the crunch and pickle flavor was such a superior flavor than any store bought pickle.

For our dish you will need one ball squash, about 1/2 cup of small cherry tomatoes and 2 cloves of garlic. Take a ball squash (they look a lot like a zucchini but they are round and about 5-6″) Slice into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Take about a tsp of kosher salt and salt one side. Let these sit for 10 minutes. You will see a lot of moisture build up. This is a good thing as it’s drawing the moisture out so they will crisp up. After the 10 minutes, use a paper towel and wipe them off to remove the moisture. Let sit again until the burgers are done. Wash and dry tomatoes and slice the garlic in thin slices.

The hamburgers were the most basic of burgers. But the offered an enormous amount of flavor.

1 lb of hamburger (15% fat)
1-2 tsp Salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Sorry no more ingredients are needed. Put the meat in a bowl, add salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands. Then simply form 4 patties no more than 4 ounces each. The patties should be pretty thin, they will be about 6″ diameter but will shrink to 4″ when cooked.

Get your iron skillet heated up to just below the smoking point. Add your patties and cook on high for about a minute. They will get nice and brown. Now flip those tasty meat patties over and cook them for another 5 minutes on med-high heat. Pull them and cover them for the next 8 minutes while you make the squash/tomato side dish.

In the same pan as the hamburgers were cooked, use a paper towel and absorb all but about a tablespoon of the pan drippings. Add your squash and brown for about 2 minutes. Turn squash over, put the garlic and tomatoes in and add some fresh cracked pepper and about 1/4 cup water. (keep your stove fan on at least medium as there will  smoke and steam). Let the tomatoes cook for about 2 minutes or until they just start to burst. Turn the heat off.

So for our burgers I believe simple buns are the best. If you need fancy buns your meat is not the star. I toasted ours for about a minute and then added a mayo mixture of – 1/2 cup Mayo, 2 Tbs worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp mustard, salt and pepper. A bit of ketchup, homegrown lettuce, red onion and homemade pickles.

Wow what a meal! The squash dish was so magnificently seasoned from the pan drippings the hamburger meat provided and the tomatoes brought such a nice sweetness to the dish.

Another incredible dish for  Burger Project 2013

Another incredible dish for Burger Project 2013

Folks I must challenge you. Summer is not over! Get your burger project started post haste!  You will not be disappointed.

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8 thoughts on “Burger Project a New Appreciation

  1. O.K. – old dog/new tricks!! I’ve done my cucs as you do for years, but I’ve never added them to the burgers! I’m running to the freezer now to thaw some burger and give it a try. I so agree with you about the s&p as the only seasoning and also, not adding a bunch of filler to the meat – if you are a true carnivore, who needs additives!! Thanks Denise – another great idea.

  2. Love the pickled cucumbers being ready in time for dinner. Brilliant. The only difference in your burgers and the ones my grandma made was she would toast the hamburger bun in the hamburger grease. It was a great greasy burger.

  3. Well, we entered into Denise’s Burger Project and must say she has a darn good plan here! We loved the burger with the quick pickles, goopy-pan toasted bun and all. The zucchini, garlic and tomatoes were very tasty. The only thing I changed was using Noilly Prat (vermouth) for the 1/4 cup water. Thanks Denise, that was fun. What’s our next project?

    • So glad to hear you liked it Jean! I wasn’t going to use water, but didn’t have anything else opened up at the time. Love the idea of Vermouth! The next burger will be a stuffed burger, seared and finished in the oven. Not sure yet still playing with ideas. I will keep everyone posted!

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