I’m pretty sure I’ve overused the phrase “I’m a purist” when it comes to burgers. That’s because Andy is in charge of them in our house and I’d go so far as to say “grills perfect burger” is right up there on the “Reasons to Keep Him Around” list with “can do ponytails” and “knows how to set the DVR to X Factor.” His burgers — juicy, salty, loosely packed, and cooked to perfect medium-rare doneness — never need more than ketchup, mustard, a slice of cheese, and a pickle to be my idea of heaven. I mean, really, if there is a meal out there that does not need to be improved upon, it is the American Hamburger. Right?
And yet. Last week, Andy was away on business, and after going on a vegetarian dinner tear for four straight nights, I was hit hard by a burger craving. A beef burger craving. Not a turkey burger, not a salmon burger, not a tandoori chicken burger. A burger burger. I had some ground beef in the freezer, but no charcoals (not that I would’ve fired them up anyway, it was a late soccer night and there was to be no messing around with charcoal chimneys at 8:00) and, more to the point, no Andy.
So I went my own way: I pan-fried some patties and did what I’ve been meaning to do ever since pulling up a stool all by myself at Umami Burger in Santa Monica last year: I made my own version of their popular Hatch Burger. (“No ketchup? No mustard?” I remember asking the bartender/server, who gave me a look that seemed to say “You’re from out of town, aren’t you?”) Rachel, one of my nicer readers who knew of my fondness for the meal, sent along what looked like an official recipe a few months ago, but in the interest of time (picking up a theme here?) I disregarded half of the ingredients and stuck to the three main components: beef, American cheese, roasted green “Hatch” chiles, a jar of which I had picked up in Santa Fe earlier this summer.
When I say this was the best burger I’ve ever made, I’m not lying. (Note the phrasing: best I’ve ever made.) The whole thing came together in about 12 minutes, which would’ve been enough to convert me, but the girls loved them too. I was fully expecting them to opt for the ketchup instead of the chiles, but neither did. I texted a picture of the dinner to Andy, who immediately texted back “That’s just mean.”
Next time it’s burger night, I’m cooking.
Inspired by Umami Burger
4 loosely packed burger patties, about 1/4 – 1/3 pound each, and mixed with a few drops of soy sauce
4 slices American cheese
4 hamburger buns (we used whole wheat, but I think potato rolls are probably a better move; there’s a time for health and this wasn’t one of them)
4 heaping tablespoons roasted green “hatch” chiles (We used Santa Fe Ole; but you can find green chiles in the Mexican aisle of most supermarkets)
In a large deep skillet, fry patties over medium heat, until cooked rare or medium-rare, about 3 minutes a side. During last minute of cooking, top each with a slice of cheese, cover skillet and cook until cheese melts. Slide burgers onto hamburger buns, and top with chiles.
P.S. I’m sorry about the kale overload these days. It really has become the default vegetable in our house and I promise to shake things up on the side dish front as soon as the godd@#m farmer’s market stops selling such good-looking bunches.
PPS: Thank you Rachel!
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Tags:burger·umami burger·umami hatch burger recipe
I was at a party last week where a friend introduced me to someone as “Jenny. You know…She’s the one who writes about how we need to eat dinner with our families every night.” This is the point when I sort of look at the ground and try to kick an imaginary stubborn rock out of the dirt. “Uh, nice to meet you,” I cough up to my poor new aquaintance, who, for all I know, has a job with completely inflexible hours and a spouse who works the night shift and who, for all the family dinner desire in the world, would not be able to make a nightly meal happen with any kind of regularity.
I know this person introducing me doesn’t deconstruct these things the way I do, and I know this person is proud of what I do and in a million years wouldn’t mean to make anyone feel bad about their dinner situation, but here’s the thing: I have never once said on my blog or in my book that you need to eat dinner with your family every night. And, as long as I’m on the topic, I have never once “emphasized my strong belief that the family that eats together stays together,” as one book reviewer recently wrote in round-up of the year’s cookbooks. Who am I to say you need do anything with your family?
It’s so hard not to sound like a sanctimonious finger-wagger when you write about anything under the parenting umbrella, but I would like to just take a minute today to emphasize my strong belief that family dinner has been a huge and meaningful ritual in my life — and that I, personally, need to eat dinner with my kids as often as possible because we depend on it for our home’s sanity and well-being – but I never mean to infer that this is the one-size-fits-all solution to ensuring connectedness and togetherness in a family. Or, that, conversely if you don’t eat with your kids every night you might as well kiss your kids’ emotional health, their college degrees and their futures goodbye. (In my opinion, there are already enough studies out there shaming us at every turn.) A friend was just telling me how she, her husband and two teenage sons barely see each other during the week, but always converge and recharge on the weekend. “The weekend is family time and it’s non-negotiable,” she said. Another friend, Sara, a mother of three, who grew up in a family that skied every weekend, and who still today is a major badass on the slopes, told me that those winter trips were when the bonding happened. In her words: “We always got it done on the chairlift.”
We get it done at the dinner table — and for those of you out there who agree with me and feel as though this is the logical place to get it done, or might be the most logical place for you to get it done or even every now and then might be the place to get it done….well, then, by all means, stop by for some inspiration. But if you’re just in it for a tasty grilled hoisin burger recipe that I’m hoping your family will love next time you all sit down together? I’m not going to stop you or tell you need to do anything more. That part is up to you.
“Daddy, did you just say we’re having poison burgers tonight?
“Hoisin burgers, Abby. Hoisin burgers.”
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon chinese 5-spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped finely
salt and pepper
Mix the above ingredients, shape into patties, and grill over hot coals, flipping frequently for a total of 10-12 minutes, until firm but not rock hard. Serve on buns with extra hoisin sauce. Hoisin is available in better supermarkets and Asian specialty stores.
Also: If you replace the ground turkey/chicken with ground pork (in Abby’s words): “It’s not like it’s going to be bad.”
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Tags:burger·family dinner pep talk
As part of the research for that Summer Cooking Manifesto I worked on for the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit — yes, the one with Gwyneth on the cover – I asked a bunch of editors the question you see up there in the title of this post: You Know it’s Summer When _______ is in the Fridge. There were basil-infused simple syrups (mixed into my Gin & Tonic, this has the potential to be my signature summer cocktail), there were chili oils amd chimichurris, and there was a sunny yellow ladolemeno vinaigrette that you pour over grilled fish (Holy. Freaking. Cow.) which tastes as bright and summery as it looks. But the most special of all, I think, was this special sauce. Not only because it elevates any burger (we used it on our rolled-out California-style turkey burgers the other night) but because it elevates any cookout. Think what a rock star you will be if you show up to the burger-and-dog barbecue with a jar of this in your hand.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
In a small jar, mix together:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon finely grated onion
1 tablespoon sweet relish or 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste
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Tags:burger·burger toppings·special sauce recipe·turkey burgers