Sunday, September 16, 2012

Anytime is Burger Time! Perfect Grilled Burgers


You cannot have a perfect burger without taking into consideration the ground beef! The fat content and coarseness of the grind are key. You want a course grind if you are grilling. Finely ground will tend to be mushy and not hold together as well. Also do not ‘work’ the meat too much in your hand as you form your patty’s, this is like ‘working’ clay and softens it and you do not want that! If you are going to work some spices into the meat first do it in a cold bowl with a cold fork. Cool your hands with cold water and make the patty’s quickly.

When choosing your ground beef, there are some important things to keep in mind. First of all, the fat percentage depends on if you are pan frying or grilling your burgers.

If you plan to pan fry, I suggest using leaner ground beef as the burger will cook in the fat that it contains and escapes the beef patty and will keep the burger moist.

When pan frying, to achieve a fire grilled taste, a cast iron skillet is a good choice. Like when grilling start off with a very hot pan to sear each side, then turn it down to finish cooking it. Since cast iron holds heat for a long time, I suggest even turning the stove burner OFF after searing each side to finish cooking them. Using a bacon press that is heated in the pan prior to cooking helps cook both sides at the same time, however you will still want to flip the burgers.

If you are grilling, use a 85% lea help your burger retain moisture better and the fat will drip into your grill fire and cause flareups and you want to reduce that as much as possible.  Keep a spray bottle of water handy to reduce the flareup from burning your burgers and you.
A trick to keeping leaner meats on the grill from drying out and falling apart is to make your beef patty’s ahead of time and partially freeze them. Also be sure your grill grates are clean and treated with a non stick spray.

When grilling be sure to start with a very hot grill, 450 – 500 degrees is good. When you have everything ready gently place the patties on the grill. When raw meat hits the hot grate it will stick which is fine! Do not try to turn it too early the burger will fall apart. You can check if its released yet with the corner of your spatula, if its still stuck, let it cook a bit longer. If it seems to be burning, spritz the flame with water to slow it down a bit.  The secret is to flip the burger the second it releases. It should take only a minute or so for each side to release. Once each side is seared turn the heat down to 350 and continue to grill 2-3 minutes per side.
Remove the hamburger patty let them sit for a minute or two before serving.
Now comes the personalization! Burgers can be topped with whatever you desire!
What are some of your favorite burger toppings?  


Crème de Cacao Espresso

Crème de Cacao Espresso

1 cup Cold water
2 T Ground espresso coffee or make double strength brewed coffee
½ Cinnamon stick (3" long)
4 tsp Crème de Cacao
2 tsp Brandy

2 T Whipping cream, chilled

Grated semisweet chocolate to garnish
Use your espresso machine for this one or just make really strong coffee with a small amount of water. Break cinnamon stick into small pieces and add to hot espresso. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Add crème de cacao and brandy, and stir gently. Pour into cute demitasse cups. Whip the cream, and float some cream on top of each cup. For looks, you can garnish with grated chocolate or fancy chocolate curls. Serves 2

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Feta-Topped Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper blend
1 large plum (Roma) tomato, cut into 8 slices
1/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese

Set oven to broil. Brush both sides of chicken breasts with the dressing. Sprinkle both sides with Italian seasoning and pepper. Place in broiler pan and put in oven 4 inches from the broiling element.

Broil about 5 minutes each side, until chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. Top with tomato and cheese and broil 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is lightly browned.

Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MK's Chicken Breast Brine

1 Qt of water
1 T minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
dash onion powder (NOT onion salt)
dash garlic powder

In 2 QT glass bowl, put 1 cup of water and microwave it for 2 min or until boiling (time depends on your microwave). Add 3 T of salt and 1/2 tsp sugar, stir until completely dissolved. Add the spices listed above and let sit a few minutes to steep. Add remaining quart of very cold water (I use some ice) and cool it all down in the refrigerator for 10 min.

Once it is cold, add 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts making sure the meat is submerged. Place a plate on top if needed to push the meat into the water.

Let brine for 1 hour.

Remove meat from brine and rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Cook on an outdoor grill for 4 - 5 minutes per side. (4 min if they are thin, 5 if thicker breasts)  or on an indoor grill such as the George Foreman grill for 5-6 min.