Thursday, February 28, 2013

The 1010, Ultimate Cheeseburger Experience

This is the first recipe I ever entered into a professional cooking contest.  I had to come up with my idea of the best burger ever, and the results are featured above.  The blueprint for this recipe revolved around a flavor profile that I felt could be identified with by many.  The idea of pot roast came to my mind, so the object of my quest was to create and exhibit the idea of mimicking those flavors, without spending hours over the stove and it won't have to wait until fall or winter. Good quality ground chuck is the protein of choice.  For the potatoes, a settled for a potato roll.  Ironically enough, when I went to our supermarket to purchase the rolls, they were out, so I opted for a robust and hearty Ciabatta roll.  For the carrot, celery and  peppers, I added just that, but in a quick pickled fashion to scatter atop the burger. The onions make an appearance as whole, trimmed green onions or scallions, grilled and chopped.  The tomatoes are included as is, in glorious slices situated below the burger.  
The 'gravy' was probably my most unique aspect of the burger as a whole, as it consisted of a reduction of red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, beef broth, bay leaf, butter and agave nectar!  The sauce was amazing and tied the ingredients together wonderfully, drizzled on the burger itself as well as the top portion of the grilled Ciabatta.  Provolone cheese seals the deal for dexterity.  I didn't win the grand prize of 100,000 bucks or even get runner up, but I am pleased with my work, more importantly, my family thought it was one in a million.
  There are lots of small steps to this recipe, but definitely not something that's not worth the wait.  I named the finished burger after myself, or one of my college days' nicknames, 1010, which I was referred to lovingly by my closest friends.  Now I share this recipe with you all, my new friends in food and blogging family!:)
1 each medium stalk celery,large carrot, red bell pepper
1/3 c. each red wine vinegar, sugar, water
1/4 tsp. each red pepper flakes, dill seed, celery seed
1 c. Cabernet Sauvignon
1 c. reduced sodium beef broth
1 small bay leaf
2 pats unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. Agave nectar
3 lbs. ground chuck, 85/15
1 tbsp. plus1 tsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3/4 c. parsley, rough chopped
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha
2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 5.5 oz bag green onions or scallions, white parts only
12 slices provolone
12 slices tomato
6 Ciabatta or Potato rolls
Preheat grill according to directions on bag, using an indirect cooking method.
Start with the quick pickled veggies.
Julienne carrot, celery and red bell pepper and place in an airtight container with lid.
Add spices and and about 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.
Dissolve sugar in water/vinegar solution and pour over veggies.
Add lid and shake to distribute spices and coat veggies. Set aside.
Next, place wine, broth and bay leaf in medium sauce-pot over the hottest part of the grill, bringing to a boil.  Reduce liquid to about 1/4 c., about seven minutes.
Remove from heat.  Discard bay leaf and stir in butter and Agave nectar.  Keep warm.
Meanwhile, prepare ground mixture by first combining 1 tbsp. olive oil, parsley, allspice, Sriracha and onion powder. SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Add to beef blend just enough to evenly incorporate wet paste.
Divide into 6 burgers.
Place burgers on medium hot grill for 4-6 minutes each side for medium rare to medium.
While burgers cook, drizzle green onions with olive oil and SPST.
Add to grill for about 6 minutes total, a small tin pan or foil will keep them from falling through the grates.
Once burgers have been flipped, split rolls and drizzle generously with olive oil.
Place on medium heat part of grill.
Once green onions have grilled and translucent, transfer to a surface and rough chop.

Place 2 slices of tomato on bottom part of roll.  Add burger.
Stir wine reduction and drizzle 1/6 onto top of burger and and toasted side of top roll
Add 2 slices of cheese and 1/6 of chopped onions
Using a slotted spoon or fork, top with 1/6 of pickled veggies.
Finish with bun top.
Serve with grilled potatoes and/or grilled vegetables.
Serves 6.

Note:  May be prepared via stove-top for convenience using a grill pan or cast iron skillet.

Thai Marinated Fried Chicken

This recipe came to me one day when I was about to marinate some chicken in traditional buttermilk, but I had the ingredients on hand to make other recipes of mine that are popular with the family, Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken and Thai Style Pasta, especially sisters Bonnie,Hollie and Gayle. This was also good to help use up some of the spices I had on hand.  Instead of using buttermilk, I used coconut milk.  For flavor building and aromatics, I used Thai Green Curry Spice blend.  This blend is layered  with goodies, including garlic, soy bean, coriander, chili, onion, lemon grass, celery seed, carrot, chives, turmeric, pepper, mustard powder, fenugreek, cumin, chick pea, ginger and cardamon, also salt.  The results were fabulous and the flavor profile is amazing.  I garnished this recipe with fresh parsley from my herb garden, but using Thai Basil or cilantro would be ideal, cilantro being what I used in the above mentioned recipes.  Jasmine Rice makes for a perfect accompaniment for this recipe and stir fry veggies, for an overall multicultural trip to the Orient!

1 3 to 4 lb. fryer, cut up into 8 pieces
1 can coconut milk, UN-sweetened
2 tbsp. Thai Green Curry Spice Blend
Seasoned flour
oil for frying
parsley or cilantro for garnish
In resealable bag, add coconut milk and spice blend, shaking to mix.  Add chicken and work around in bag to coat.
Press out excess air and seal.
Marinate for 2 to 4 hours.
When ready, heat oil to 375*.
Drain chicken in colander, but do not rinse.
Fry chicken in 2 batches until golden and internal temperature reaches 165*, about 10 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
Keep warm in oven until complete.
Garnish with herbs.  Serves 4.

Steak n' Havarti Mac and Cheese!

Macaroni and cheese is not only popular with the kids, adults can also be included in the bunch. More and more chefs and mac and cheese enthusiasts have come up with spins and variations that elevate this wonderful complete protein combination to all new heights. Ingredients are virtually limitless when swapping out pastas and  cheeses, including add in's like lobster and steak.   Adding savory steak bites and carmelized onions, help achieve an over the top and super protein packed punch. This recipe is suitable for an amazing meal for adults. The cheese for this recipe is Havarti,  Danish in orgin, also a pasturized,cow's milk cheese, named after a farmer's estate in the 19th century, aged for at least 1 month.  Havarti is often flavored with dill, chili or cumin, and has a natural washed soft rind .
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp.brown sugar
1 lb. ziti, cooked  al dente, in salted water, reserving about 1 1/2 cups pasta water.
1 lb. bite sized steak pieces, such as for stir frying, sauteed for about 2 minutes in a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat
8 oz. Havarti w/ dill, cut into cubes
1/2 c. frozen or fresh peas
Olive oil for drizzling
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle with oil and melt butter.
Once small bubbles form and sizzling, add onions, sugar and SPST, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 4 minutes, reduce heat to medium low and cook until onions are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Once onions are carmelized, remove from pan, and return heat to medium high.
Drizzle with olive oil and add steak bites.  SPST
Saute until no longer pink and some browning occurs, about 2 minutes.
Add pasta water and bring up to a boil.
Add cheese and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir until cheese is melted and add pasta.
Fold until pasta is coated and heated through.
Fold in onions and peas. Drizzle with olive oil and  SPST.  Cover.
Turn  off heat.
Let stand for 5 minutes, for peas to heat through.  Serves 6 to 8.