Creamy Mushrooms and Eggs {FFwD}

AMFT Cover

Although I haven’t been participating in French Fridays with Dorie (or any other bake- or cook-along group) recently, I happened by the website the other day, and this recipe was enough to pull me back in. Mushrooms, cream, and poached eggs (singing: these are a few of my favorite things) on top of toasted brioche — I mean, what’s not to love?

This recipe was as simple as it was delicious. Cleaning the mushroom caps and chopping the mushrooms, shallot, rosemary, and mint were the most time-consuming parts of the whole process. After that, it was just a matter of adding everything to the pan in the right order while Mom poached some eggs.

Once I had my mise en place, I began by heating olive oil and melting butter in a sauté pan. I dropped in the shallot and sautéed it for a few minutes, then added the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Once the mushrooms had given up their liquid and begun to soften, I added cream and let it simmer away for a few minutes while I sliced up the brioche and started toasting it. Finally, I removed the pan from the heat and stirred in rosemary and mint.

By that time, Mom was finished poaching the eggs (perfectly, I might add), and we plated everything. We put a slice of brioche on the plate, topped it with a nice spoonful of mushrooms and the poached egg, and then finished it off by spooning the mushroom cream over the top.

Everyone agreed that this was a perfect Sunday supper — simple, homey, filling, and insanely delicious.

I’m glad to be back cooking with my friends for French Fridays. I can’t say for sure how many recipes I will make, or if I’ll post many or any of them. But I have already made next week’s Coupetade. And I love both asparagus and avocado. So there’s a good chance I’ll be around at least for the month of May.

Bon appetite!

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Raspberry Cream Cake {ModBak}

In last week’s Modern Baker Mondays post, I recounted my first successful attempt at making a classic génoise.

And I promised that if you came back this week, you’d see what became of this wonderful cake layer. Obviously, a cake this beautiful had to be destined for something equally stunning. So I used it to make this show-stopping raspberry cream cake.

This is a special cake for a special occasion. Who wouldn’t feel great about being presented with a cake like this for a birthday or anniversary? It’s just enough work to make it a cake worth saving for a special occasion; but not so much that you should be intimidated about making it. In fact, once you have your génoise prepared, most of the work is behind you.

This cake derives its raspberry flavor from three components: raspberry moistening syrup (which is just a simple syrup with a little framboise stirred into it), seedless raspberry jam, and raspberry buttercream.

This is a classic buttercream with a raspberry purée (seeded raspberries cooked down to a jelly-like consistency) and more framboise added to it. Once you’ve made the génoise, syrup, and buttercream, it’s just a matter of assembling the cake.

I began by cutting the génoise into three layers.

I inverted the top layer onto a tart pan bottom, then brushed it with the raspberry syrup.

I spread some raspberry jam on the layer.

Then I topped it with buttercream.

I repeated these steps with the second layer, then inverted what had originally been the bottom layer on top.

I finished the cake with buttercream, then pressed sliced almonds on the sides of the cake. Finally, I topped everything with some sugared black raspberries.

This cake was amazing! The génoise was light and airy, and the raspberry flavor permeated the entire cake yet was somehow delicate and almost understated. We enjoyed this cake for dessert the day it was made and over the next several days, as it held up really well.

This is definitely not a weeknight cake, but it’s not so complex that you should be afraid to try it. The “wow” factor definitely exceeds the amount of work it takes to make, making this a great cake for any special occasion.

Pimm’s No. 1 Punch Cup {Recipe}

Around this time last summer, I discovered Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liquor made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices, herbs, and spices. The formula is a well-kept secret. It is reported that only six people in the world know how it’s made. The taste is hard to describe. It’s light, fruity, a little spicy, with a hint of cucumber (yes, cucumber). You definitely don’t have to be a gin drinker to enjoy Pimm’s.

The classic Pimm’s drink, the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, is commonly associated with Wimbledon. As with most classic (i.e., old) cocktail recipes, there are dozens of ways to make a Pimm’s cup. The “official” recipe, from the Pimm’s website, is 1 part Pimm’s No. 1 and 3 parts chilled lemonade, stirred together over ice, and garnished with one or more of mint, cucumber, orange, and strawberry. However, because British lemonade is carbonated and lemonade in the States tends to be still, many recipes call for a 1:2:1 ratio of Pimm’s, lemonade, and lemon-lime soda or seltzer.

I used the classic Pimm’s No. 1 Cup recipe as the basis for a party punch I made to take to a dinner party recently.  Here’s how I made it:

Pimm’s No. 1 Punch Cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6-8 basil leaves
  • 5 strawberries
  • 3 limes
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 cups still lemonade
  • 1 bottle Pimm’s No. 1
  • 6 cups carbonated lemonade -or- 3 cups still lemonade and 3 cups lemon-lime soda

Directions

  • Muddle sugar and 4 basil leaves and place in large pitcher or container.

  • Chiffonade remaining basil leaves and add to pitcher with muddled basil.
  • Hull, wash, and slice strawberries. Add to pitcher.
  • Zest and juice 1 lime; slice remaining 2 limes. Add zest, juice, and slices to pitcher.
  • Slice cucumbers and add to pitcher.
  • Pour 4 cups still lemonade into pitcher and mix well, smashing fruit a bit to release juices. Add Pimm’s and stir to mix well.

  • Cover container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Add carbonated lemonade (or remaining still lemonade and lemon-lime soda) and stir gently to mix.
  • Serve over ice, garnished with one or more of strawberries, lime wedges, cucumber slices, or sprigs of mint or basil.

Variation: Substitute mint sprigs for basil.

This is the last in a series of six posts featuring (or at least including) strawberries. The strawberries were great this year, and I was having so much fun making recipes with them that I decided to host Strawberry Week on my blog. Check out the other posts from this week, including Real Strawberry Shortcakes.

Rum-scented Marble Cake {ModBak}

I was all set to make this recipe the other day when my friends Kayte and Margaret tweeted that they were making it, too. So we decided to have a Twitterbake and make it “together” in our separate kitchens (and separate States). It’s always more fun baking with others, even if you are baking and tweeting from far away.

This is the third recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. After starting with a delicious, if fussy, pound cake, I was looking forward to trying this recipe.

As impressive as it looks, this cake was really easy to put together, although it did dirty quite a few bowls. The base batter consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter (three sticks!), seven eggs, and dark rum. After making a heavy paste of the dry ingredients and butter, I whisked the eggs and rum, then added them to the butter mixture.

The chocolate swirl layer consisted of dark rum, milk, baking soda, bittersweet chocolate, and two cups of the base batter, all mixed together until blended.

To assemble the cake, I put half the base batter in the pan, smoothed the top, then topped it with the chocolate layer.

I covered this with the rest of the base batter, smoothed the top, then marbled it by dragging a knife through the batter from the center to the edge all the way around the pan.

I baked the cake for 75 minutes, until it was done through but still moist.

Pardon the pun, but the cake smelled intoxicating while it baked. The chocolate and rum combined to give it a rich, heady aroma, and I couldn’t wait to cut into it. I let the cake cool, then sprinkled the top with powdered sugar (although it really didn’t need any adornment).

My daughter and I decided to sample it for a bedtime snack.

I was planning to take the rest of it to work today, but after tasting it, my daughter announced that I would be doing no such thing. The cake was rich, but not overly sweet, and had a great balance of flavors. Calling it “rum-scented” is quite apt, as the rum adds more to the aroma than the flavor.

This was another great recipe from The Modern Baker and has me looking forward to the next seven months(!) of cakes.

Check out Kayte’s and Margaret’s posts to see what they thought and to get a look at their beautiful marbling.

Oasis Naan {TWD-BWJ}

I am so pleased to be hosting this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia recipe! This was a particularly good pick for me, as I love naan but had never made it myself. I’ve had several recipes bookmarked to try at some point, but never quite got as far at making them. So hosting this week finally gave me the push I needed to try my hand at baking naan. And, boy, am I glad it did!

This recipe begins with a batch of Persian Naan dough (recipe below), which was a breeze to throw together. I began by measuring tepid water into my mixing bowl, then sprinkling yeast on top.

The recipe calls for active dry yeast. Since I always use instant yeast, I turned to my handy yeast conversion table and saw that I would need 0.75 teaspoon of instant yeast for every teaspoon of active dry yeast in the recipe. Since the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons active dry yeast, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast. I stirred the yeast into the water, then added 3 cups of flour, one at a time, using my dough whisk.

At this point, I put the bowl on the stand mixer and began using the dough hook to mix in the salt and remaining flour.

After mixing in 6 cups of flour, the dough was still quite sticky, so I added more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it stopped clinging to the sides of the bowl.

It took an additional 7 tablespoons of flour to get the dough to the point where it was tacky but not sticky. The recipe said to knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. I mixed it on medium-low speed with my stand mixer for about 7 minutes.

I put the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turned it to coat both sides with oil, then set it aside to rise for 2 hours.

After 2 hours the dough had more than doubled in size, which I expected given the amount of yeast in the recipe.

About 15 minutes before the dough reached the 2 hour mark, I put my unglazed clay tiles on the oven rack and began preheating the oven to 500°F. It takes both the oven and the tiles longer than you might think to reach such a high temperature (don’t trust the “oven ready” beeper), and I wanted my tiles to be smoking hot by the time I was ready to begin baking.

While the oven was preheating and the dough finishing its rise, I chopped 2 scallions and got out some coarse sea salt and cumin seeds.

To shape the naan, I divide the dough into 8 pieces. Normally, I scale dough when dividing it. But naan is a rustic bread, so I didn’t really care if the pieces weren’t exactly the same size.

I preshaped each piece of dough into a ball and flattened slightly. Then, working with one dough ball at a time, I rolled the dough into a 6-inch circle, which I sprinkled with water and docked with a fork.

I moved the dough to a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal, then rolled out a second dough ball. Once I had two naan on the peel, I sprinkled them with salt, green onion, and cumin seeds.

I loaded the dough into the oven and began preparing the next two dough balls. I baked the naan for about 8 minutes, until they were well puffed and the scallions began to take on some color.

The naan baked up puffier than what I’m used to getting at an Indian restaurant. But it was delicious — better than any restaurant or store-bought naan I’ve ever tried. The bread was soft and chewy, and the cumin and scallions gave it a deep, subtle flavor that definitely reminded me of the best Indian dishes I’ve had.

And speaking of Indian food, I served the naan with homemade butter chicken — a perfect pairing.

If you love naan but have never made it yourself, give this recipe a try. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. You may never buy naan again.

Persian Naan Dough (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tepid water (80°F to 90°F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast [or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast]
  • 5 to 6 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon [Kosher] salt

Directions

  1. Put the water and yeast in a large bowl and stir to blend. Add 3 cups of the flour, about a cup at a time, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon [or dough whisk]. Beat for 1 minute, or about 100 strokes, to develop the gluten.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture and start adding the remaining flour, again about a cup at a time, stirring after each addition and then stirring until the dough is too stiff for you to work. You may not need to use it all.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it vigorously, adding more flour as necessary, until it is smooth and easy to handle, about 10 minutes. [Or mix with stand mixer on medium-low speed with dough hook for about 7 minutes, adding flour as necessary until dough does not cling to sides or bottom of bowl.]
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to cover the entire surface with oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it has more than doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Don’t worry if it goes longer — it will be just fine. If it’s more convenient, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the dough rise overnight; bring the dough to room temperature before continuing.

Oasis Naan (from Baking with Julia; recipe by Jeffery Alford & Naomi Duguid). Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Persian Naan dough, fully risen
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped (white and tender green parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon (approximately) cumin or caraway seeds

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and line with quarry tiles or a baking stone, leaving a 1-inch air space all around. (If you do not have tiles or a stone, place an inverted baking sheet on the oven rack.) Preheat the oven to 500°F. Set aside a baker’s peel or dust a baking sheet with flour.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball; flatten each ball with lightly floured palms. Roll out the dough into circles about 1/4 inch thick and 5 to 6 inches across and sprinkle with water.
  3. Each circle needs to be well pricked all over, with the exception of a 1- to 2-inch border. Traditionally, this is done with a dough stamp, a round utensil with concentric circles of thin spikes. Alternatively, you can use a roller pricker (also known as a pastry docker), the tines of a fork, or the pointy metal loop at the bottom of a whisk. Whatever you choose, you want to prick the dough with determination, flattening the center of each circle.
  4. Sprinkle each center with coarse salt, chopped scallions, and a pinch of cumin or caraway seeds.
  5. Slide the breads onto the hot quarry tiles using the baker’s peel (or slide onto the baking sheet), and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops start to color.
  6. Remove the breads and cool on a rack for about 5 minutes before wrapping them in a cotton towel. These are best served warm.
  7. The breads are best eaten shortly after they’re baked, but they’ll keep, wrapped in a towel, for a day. For longer storage, wrap the [fully cooled] breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Keep the breads in their wrappers while they thaw at room temperature, and then warm them for a few minutes in a 400°F oven before serving.

Persian Naan {BWJ}

The first June recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is Oasis Naan. I was lucky enough to be picked to host this recipe, so I’ll be posting the full recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions next week.

The Oasis Naan begins with a batch of Persian Naan dough, and since I had to make the dough anyway, I decided to make some Persian and some Oasis Naan. Check out the Oasis Naan post for the recipe and instructions for making the dough.

After mixing the dough and letting it rise, I got my oven ready. Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven called a “tandoor”. The best way to replicate this in a home oven is with a baking stone or clay tiles.

I picked up these unglazed clay tiles for about 50 cents each at a French bread baking class I took a few years ago. They are great for baking crusty artisan breads. And because they are individual tiles, they are easy to get in and out of the oven, store, and (if you buy extras like I did) replace if you break one. I set the oven to 500°F and let it preheat while I shaped the naan.

I deflated the dough and divided it into four pieces.

I preshaped each piece into an oval, then let them rest while the oven finished preheating. This allowed the gluten to relax and made them easier to shape.

In the meantime, I prepared a small bowl of water and got out some black sesame seeds.

Once the dough had relaxed a bit and the oven was good and hot, I began shaping the naan. I made one at a time. First, I pressed the dough out with wet fingertips. I dipped my hands in water every few seconds to get the dough good and wet.

Next, I gently lifted the dough over my hands and stretched it out. Finally, I sprinkled the naan liberally with black sesame seeds.

I lifted the naan off the work surface and gently moved it to the oven. It only took about five minutes to bake, since the oven and tiles were so hot.

As you can see, my naan came out kind of funny shaped. I had stretched it too long and had to make it fit on the tiles. Hence, the shmoo-shaped naan. This was fine, as naan is a rustic bread that is served by placing the whole piece in the center of the table and letting everyone tear off hunks to eat.

The naan was delicious. Light, crisp, and just a little bit yeasty. The thinner parts were almost like a cracker, while the thicker sections were soft and pillowy.

I served the Persian naan with butter chicken for a delicious and satisfying dinner.

This recipe was fun to make and wonderful to eat. Definitely a repeat.

Brioche {BWJ}

Our next Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Pecan Sticky Buns, which is due to be posted May 15, 2012. The first “ingredient” listed in the recipe is one batch of brioche dough. Since the brioche is a separate recipe and is used as a base for various other recipes in Baking with Julia, I decided it deserved its own post.

Brioche dough is loaded with butter and eggs, so you know whatever you make with it is going to be good. Brioche is known for its richness and fine texture. It can be tricky to work with, and it is definitely best made using a heavy-duty stand mixer.

Now, I’m no stranger to brioche. I made three versions of it during the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. Bubble-top brioche was one of the first recipes I made from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (AMFT). And Nick Malgieri has a quick and easy brioche recipe in The Modern Baker, which I used to make a quick brioche braid and marbled chocolate brioche loaf.

The recipe in BWJ was contributed by Nancy Silverton and begins with a sponge. Milk, yeast, one egg, and a bit of flour are mixed just until the flour is blended in.

More flour is sprinkled on top, and the sponge is allowed to rest until the yeast begins working. You know it’s ready when the flour starts to crack.

Once the sponge was ready, I added sugar, salt (not enough, in my opinion; next time I’ll increase the salt by about half), and more eggs and flour. I mixed the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook for about 15 minutes, until I had a shaggy dough that clung to the dough hook and slapped against the side of the bowl.

The next step called for incorporating lots of butter into the dough. In order to do this, the directions said the butter should be roughly the same texture and consistency as the dough. The recipe recommended beating the butter with a rolling pin or smearing it on the work surface with a dough scraper. I decided to use the smear method, but I found the dough scraper awkward to work with. I had much better luck with an offset spatula.

I incorporated the butter a bit at a time. Thanks to the instructions, I didn’t worry when the dough separated, as I knew with continued mixing it would come back together. Once all the butter had been added, I continued to mix the dough for about 5 more minutes. The dough was soft, sticky, and warm from all the mixing. I put it into a large buttered bowl and set it aside to rise.

After about 2 hours, the dough had doubled in size.

I deflated the dough and put it in the fridge for its second rise.

After an overnight rest in the refrigerator, the dough was ready to be made into sticky buns. Check out the sticky buns post to see how they came out.

As for the brioche dough itself, I would have to say it was my least favorite of all the variations I’ve tried. It was extremely labor intensive, and the final product didn’t have a payoff in line with the amount of work involved. I suspect Dorie wouldn’t be too surprised to hear this. After all, she developed a much easier and more straightforward recipe for brioche for AMFT.

Hungarian Shortbread {TWD-BWJ}

This week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie — Baking with Julia was a new twist on an old favorite for me. I’m a big fan of shortbread cookies and love to try different versions of them (Nick Malgieri’s macadamia shortbreads were especially delicious), but I had never heard of Hungarian shortbread before making this recipe.

What sets Hungarian shortbread apart from other shortbreads is that it is layered and filled with a tart fruit filling, rhubarb jam in the case of Dorie’s recipe. The other thing that is unique about this recipe is the way the shortbread is formed. After mixing the dough, you divide it in half and shape each half into a ball, freeze the dough balls for half an hour, then grate the dough into the pan using a box grater. The filling is spread between two layers of dough, and the whole thing is baked. Finally, the shortbread is dusted with powdered sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Here are my observations on this recipe:

  • I don’t really understand the purpose of freezing and grating the dough.  The recipe says that it makes the dough easier to work with, but I didn’t really find that to be true. First, I had a heck of a time shaping the dough into balls and wrapping it. Then, when I tried to grate it, it got so crumbly that I gave up on the box grater and  just crumbled it into the pan by hand. I think it would have been just as easy to press the dough into the pan from the beginning, and that’s what I’ll do next time.

  •  I’m generally not a fan of rhubarb, and it’s not really in season here yet, so I decided to use my homemade four-citrus marmalade for the filling. The tart bite of the marmalade offset the sweetness of the shortbread and brought the whole thing together.

  • The shortbread baked up beautifully. Some of the other TWD bakers reported that their shortbread came out underdone, but mine was perfect.

  • I dusted the top of the shortbread with powdered sugar as soon as it came out of the oven, as the recipe instructed. However, since it was hot, the sugar melted and got kind of funky. Next time, I’ll let it cool first, then dust on the sugar.

  • And now, a word about purple. When I first looked at the picture of the finished shortbread in the book, I thought it was beautiful. I especially liked the contrasting colors — the golden shortbread punctuated by the red filling and bluish-purple topping. I quickly turned to the recipe to see what made the bluish color on top of the shortbread, but the recipe just said to dust it with powdered sugar. Nothing blue; nothing purple — just powdered sugar. I flipped back to the picture, looked at it more closely, and realized the blue tint was just a reflection from the background. Undaunted, I decided mine would be purple.
  • I tried coloring the powdered sugar with food coloring, but it didn’t mix in. Then I stirred in purple finishing sugar that I use for King Cake. It mixed in fine, but when I dusted the top of the shortbread, the colored sugar didn’t make it through the sifter. I finally ended up just sprinkling the sugar on top of the shortbread. It didn’t give quite the same effect as the photo in the book, but I still liked the look of it.

The final verdict: we really liked this recipe, and I’ll definitely be making it again. I might change up the filling, but I’ll keep it tart. And I won’t bother with trying to grate the dough; I’ll just press it into the pan. And, yes, I’ll use purple sprinkles again.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs {Recipe}

I’m not sure where I first saw marbled tea eggs, but I’ve wanted to try them for some time. The opportunity finally presented itself just before Easter. I bought 3 dozen eggs for the kids to color (hey, they were on sale for $1.19/dozen). I boiled all the eggs, but the girls started to lose interest around the second dozen. And that’s when I decided to commandeer about a half dozen eggs and try making tea eggs.

As dramatic and, yes, delicious as these eggs are, they are really easy to make. Having already hard-boiled the eggs, it was just a matter of cracking the shells and then simmering the eggs in a spice-tea mixture for a few hours.

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 bags strong, clean-flavored black tea
  • 1/2 cup ponzu sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Directions

  1. Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil, then turn off burner. Cover the pan and let sit for 7 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan, but don’t dump the water. Allow eggs to cool.
  2. When eggs are cool enough to handle, crack the shells without removing, using the back of a spoon or flat edge of a table knife. Try to get as many small cracks as possible.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the water in the saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Return eggs to the pan and add water to cover eggs by at least 2 inches.
  4. Bring water to a boil, then lower heat and simmer eggs for 2-3 hours. The longer they cook, the darker the marbling and stronger the flavor. Add water as needed during cooking to keep eggs fully submerged.
  5. Refrigerate unpeeled eggs in cooking liquid in glass or ceramic container.

Note: If you don’t have ponzu available to you, substitute an equal amount of soy sauce and the zest of 1 lime.

These eggs are as delicious as they are visually stunning. The ponzu and spices give them a great citrusy, spicy, slightly salty flavor. And the tea lends to both the color and taste.

You can serve these eggs warm, cold, or at room temperature; plain, with a little salt, ponzu, or soy sauce; by themselves or cut up and served on rice or noodles. You could even make deviled eggs with them, or slice them in half and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and caviar. The possibilities are almost endless. But, to tell the truth, my favorite way to eat them is with the barest sprinkle of salt.

Now that I’ve finally tried tea eggs, I want to make them again with different spices. Maybe next time I’ll leave out the star anise and add some whole cloves and allspice. Or perhaps Chinese 5-spice powder. One thing’s for sure: I’m not waiting until next Easter to make more of these beauties.

The Perfect Burger {Recipe}

If a picture is worth a thousand words, need I say  more than this?

After watching an episode of Good Eats, I was convinced that I needed to buy a cast iron griddle and grind my own hamburger. And, boy, am I glad I did.

This, my friends, is the best hamburger you’ve ever tasted. Made right in your own kitchen. No pink slime; no mystery meat; and no seasonings other than Kosher salt.

The Perfect Burger (based on recipe by Alton Brown)

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces chuck
  • 12 ounces sirloin
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Lightly oil cast iron griddle. Preheat griddle over medium-high heat.
  2. Trim chuck of excess fat and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Place chuck in food processor and pulse 10 times in 1-second intervals. Scrape meat into large bowl.
  3. Repeat with sirloin, adding to bowl with chuck after grinding.
  4. Add salt to meat and mix well with clean hands by lifting the meat from underneath and turning it over, being careful not to squish or compress meat.
  5. Shape meat into 5- to 5 1/2-ounce patties by forming into balls, tossing gently back and forth from hand to hand, then shaping each patty gently, again without pressing meat very much.
  6. Place patties on preheated griddle pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or 5 minutes per side for medium, turning only once during cooking and resisting the urge to press down on the patties while they cook. (This is not a diner, and your name’s not Mel. Pressing the patties while they cook only serves to squish out all the delicious juiciness. Also, because the meat is freshly ground and not full of who-knows-what, the patties do not need to be cooked beyond medium.)
  7. While the patties are cooking, prepare hamburger buns by spreading the bottom bun with mayonnaise and topping with a bit of freshly cracked black pepper. The juices from the burger will mix with the mayo and pepper to make the most delicious “sauce” you can imagine.
  8. When the burgers are done cooking, place on buns, adorn with desired toppings, and enjoy.

Makes 4 burgers

The first time I made these, I didn’t add any toppings, as I wanted to taste them unadorned with just the mayo, pepper, and burger “sauce”. I can’t describe how good it was this way. Juicy, tender, and oh-so-meaty tasting.

I think what sets this recipe apart from any other burger I’ve tried is the “meatiness” of it. The freshly ground beef, the lack of overpowering seasonings, and the minimal toppings all let the meat flavor shine through.

Give it a try. It’s easier than you think to create the most flavorful, meaty burger you’ve ever had. But be warned: you may never be able to go back to store-bought ground beef again.

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