It’s been a couple days since my last blog posting, reason being that as you Europeans would say, I’ve been on holiday here at the beach. The wifi connection that was advertised made no mention of it being only 1 Megabyte per second.
I’m on the coast of North Carolina this week relaxing with family and being re-introduced to society after many hours in the kitchen this year. Spending time with the family, drinking ice tea vodka and lemonades and reading the Stieg Larsson books I’ve heard so much about has worked wonders. So far it has gone well…no sunburn and little social awkwardness interacting with people who don’t wear white jackets or say “behind you” when passing in close proximity. It’s been nice to hear my own name and address others by theirs, rather than “Chef”.
I have had the opportunity to do a considerable amount of cooking this week. One of the things I made in our modest kitchen this week was a pretty good hamburger. We had an intense storm outside and I wasn’t enthusiastic about firing up the grill, so I went old school and pulled out a cast iron skillet. A month or so ago I saw a show on PBS, I think, that I cannot remember the name of. It was a cooking science show and the idea for this episode was making “old fashioned” hamburgers. Great hamburger meat, pattied very loosely and roughly (for reasons that I’ll get to in a second) and then heavily seasoned and griddled.
The burgers, they said, should be just a little over-seasoned. They used American cheese to top them after they were flipped on the griddle, which melted and oozed over the sides. The purpose for hand-pattying them loosely was so that they would seem more tender, and they should have a coarse texture for the cheese to melt into.
I found some great ground chuck, but I usually like 70/30 as opposed to 80/20. The solution was to make up the difference in fat using whole butter, something I saw on the “Ideas in Food” blog last year. I usually add Worcestershire sauce, but since we didn’t have any in the pantry, A1 had to suffice tonight. After mixing in kosher salt, black pepper and granulated onion, I hand pattied them roughly and fired up the cast iron skillet. After they had good color, I topped them with cheese and finished them in the oven. One thing to add: I believe one of the most crucial elements of a great burger is a buttered, toasted bun. It provides texture and flavor, but also keeps the bun from getting too soggy from the patty.
The result was some pretty good hamburgers. The pockets of butter made them incredibly juicy and the steak sauce gave it a more “beefy” flavor. This will be something to take back to the kitchen to work on later.
Tomorrow we’ll see what kind of fresh seafood offerings we can find.