Tuesday, August 4, 2009

King of Spring.

If you didn’t know, I have been planning on racing this fall. I am going to race cyclocross, which involves riding (what’s basically) a road bike with knobby tires in a lapped race around a dirt/mud course. It is apparently one of the most demanding types of cycle racing out there. Sounds like a good idea, no? Well I took my first foray into racing this past weekend, with the King of Spring race at Spring Mountain. Lucky for me, there was a torrential downpour, and the course could not have been in worse/tougher condition. It was one of the most physically demanding things I have done.

After the first of two 5 mile laps, I didn’t think I would be able to complete another. But once I got back to the start, the adrenaline kicked in, and I was back in action. We raced in horrendous conditions, it was extremely sketchy and dangerous, but at the end of it, I had a huge smile. I raced in the middle group, Sport Class, and on my trusty single speed (one gear), I came in 13th out of 25. I was beyond happy with that outcome - racing against experienced people and lacking their convenience of gears, I felt it was very respectable. As an added bonus, I didn’t have a heart attack. (I would also wager that no other racers were out until 3 a.m. party hopping the night before.)

This level of workout led me to a hankering for some comfort food. Can you say cheeseburgers?
I have developed a real problem, however, where I am just not satisfied with most burgers I order-out at most restaurants. They are generally over cooked, and the cheese just doesn’t “pop” enough. Enter my burger obsession of the summer. If you want something done right, often times you must do it yourself.

I start these food-babies (eww, I know) with 80/20 ground beef. Let’s face it, if you are going to eat a burger, you might as well make it a good one. No 90/10 or any of that non-sense. The fat content is what makes it so juicy. I had about three pounds of beef, and I added some dashes of Worchester, pepper, five diced cloves of garlic and half of a white onion, chopped.

Now comes the magic. Some cooking cronies over at false front taught me this technique after I asked them to stuff the burgers at my fourth of July bar-be-que. I was at a block party that day and was in no form to stuff the burgers, nor was I capable of performing all of the other food preparations, cooking, etc., and – let me tell you, those are some amazing cooking-mates over there at false front. The technique is to take enough of the mixture to form a baseball. Poke your thumb down into the ball two-thirds of the way through, and then cram as much gorgonzola as possible into that hole. I mean really stuff it in there. Use a bowl and dump some of the crumbles right in or crumble from the block into there; this prevents cross-contamination through your beefy hands going from your bowl of meat to the container of cheese. Then take your fingers and pinch and fold the top up, closing the hole. This is the most important step. If any of the cheese is exposed, it will seep out with the heat, thus ruining the stuffed burger effect. It is truly a travesty to watch your hard work go to waste; you don’t want to have to reach for additional cheese with which to top (what should have been) your little cheese-filled masterpiece. It’s just not the same, actually, it’s not even close. So make sure the pocket is closed on top and all around and flatten away, making them into a classic THICK patty shape. Be sure and double check that the seal is not broken and you are good to go. Now use your thumb to place an indent into the top of the burger. This will ensure that it maintains the flat shape and doesn’t puff up in the middle. Got it? Good (actually Great, because you have just made the best burgers you will have ever eaten).

By now, you have hopefully had your chimney going to heat your hardwood charcoal for your grill. Propane is acceptable as well, but you really can’t beat hardwood charcoal. NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID. A chimney is $12-15 and will last for years, is super easy to use, and makes you look like a pro. Lighter fluid is just gross and last I checked, I was never a big fan of the taste on my food. So now that your chimney is full of charcoal is ready to dump, throw it in and let the grill get hot. I like to give the grate a scrape to get any remaining bits of my last meal off, and it will also help stoke the coals. Give it a quick dousing with olive oil spray, or carefully wipe it with a paper towel that has some oil on it, then carefully slide those burgers on (which have been out of the fridge for at least a half hour to warm up). Be sure you check to make sure there are no pieces of cheese poking through.

Assuming you had the grill hot, you should wait about 4-5 minutes before you flip them. I like my burgers medium rare, but in this instance you will probably end up more medium-ish. This is due to the fact that you want the cheese to warm up and melt, and no one (not even me) likes bloody cheese. The high fat content will ensure that the burger stays juicy - some of which will drip off and create a thick layer of smoke from the coals, adding to the char-grilled flavor.

When you pull these burgers off, give them about 5 minutes to rest. They will pull back their liquid, and the cheese will be melted, but not molten, and you will be delirious with deliciousness. The cheese infuses throughout the surrounding meat, giving it a sharp, salty, creamy flavor that complements the smoky-charcoal flavor perfectly. The beef will be dripping with juice, and depending on how well you listen (stuff as much cheese as possible in there), virtually every bite will be dripping with cheesy, meaty, gooey goodness. When you have had burgers this way, all competitors pale in comparison. This is by no means a healthy meal, but once in a while, everyone deserves a little taste of heaven.

One thing that is tough with these burgers is knowing when they are done. Just use your best judgment. About 12-15 minutes on the grill and they should be good to go. I garnished with slow cooked onions and mushrooms, lettuce, Jersey tomato and mayo on the bun. Simply amazing. Recipes for the homemade potato chips and onions soon to come. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Scott from Mermaid said...

That's a good looking burger.. yeah, 80/20 is the way to go, no doubt. If I see one more person smashing a burger with a spatula to "squeeze the unwanted fat" out of it, I think I might scream. We made some pretty amazing stuffed burgers at the DCI spring BBQ with aged cheddar and diced green peppers (among other things)- it might be my new favorite way to make them.