This was a fun challenge that I just couldn’t let go without a strong offense.
My youngest claimed one day, “home-cooked burgers are just missing something . . . they don’t taste nearly as good as ‘fast-food’ burgers”. Well to this I had to take . . .or make the challenge. I just could not let this one rest.
Without the opportunity for a quick market run to buy another meat (e.g. pork, lamb, turkey . . . anything!) I found myself faced with the sole ingredient for my burgers being 93% beef. Good enough, because it still had enough fat to make the burger patties somewhat flavorful. I just could not ride on that sole ingredient to blow my son away with a home-cooked burger that could rival any fast-food type. I’ll be very honest, I had my doubts about this challenge but thought through the process and kept saying to my self . . . “I think I can, I think I can!”
I started with 2 pounds of ground beef. Knowing that I needed to flavor and tenderize the beef, I added a 1/2 cup of pineapple juice and 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. A handful of salt (about 1-1 1/2 table spoons . . . yes, good food takes salt), about a tablespoon of pepper, freshly ground. Mixed it all together and, after pulling a sample aside for poaching, covered the rest and let it marinade for a couple hours hoping for the flavors to build and the meat to tenderize.
The sample of meat was poached in clear liquid to test for flavoring. Yes I know the poaching thermometer is a bit hot, but I really just wanted to taste for seasoning before actually cooked the final product. I think at this point I needed to add more salt.
Once I was satisfied with the flavor, I placed the burger mix in the fridge for a couple of hours to blend and tenderize from the acids in the pineapple juice and white vinegar. I rolled into 1/4 pound balls and readied them for the George Forman. I was searching for just the right grill marks (yeah, I know . . . where’s the cross hatch-marks . . . gimme a break!) and crunchy seared crust to give them just a bit of crunch under the bun. PERFECT! Just before pressing them in the George Forman, I topped them with a bit of Chimichurri and brushed the grill surfaces with the same. I built the burger with cheese, a perfectly toasted bun (just got a new toaster oven too), shredded lettuce, crisp Kosher pickles and red onion. Plated the creation with some parmesan/garlic fries and tots. You tell me . . . ? My son just smiled when he tasted it and commented “Ok, pretty damn good”, . . . but then went on to say “they’re still not the same”. “Good, but not better, . . . different!”
FINE! Friggin’ kids . . .
To this, I give the ol’ packaged and wrapped freezer burgers ready for the lunch sack the next day!