Pro tip: Indent your burgers for even Labor Day grilling

08/26/2014 11:52 AM

09/13/2014 6:33 PM

At a recent gathering around the grill at Clearwater Beach, my sister-in-law plopped burger patties with a big depression in the center onto the grill. I asked why, and she said, “I saw it on the Internet; makes a better burger.”

Turns out, there is a reason: The depression helps the burgers cook more evenly and keeps them more flat as they start to swell on the grill.

As you plan your Labor Day grilling, here are some more tips from Russ Faulk, outdoor-kitchen design expert and grillmaster for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, which makes grills and accessories. Faulk’s “ultimate” burger is topped with bacon, blue brie, grilled onions and rosemary aioli.

“The way the blue brie melts is absolutely luscious, and the rosemary blends perfectly with the slightly savory nature of the cheese,” he says. “The whole package is amazing.”

The rosemary aioli recipe is an intriguing condiment to try — it would really perk up a ground turkey patty. (If you must, take a shortcut and simply add rosemary and garlic to a good-quality mayonnaise).

You can find more burger tips and recipes, including the complete Ultimate Burger, at kalamazoogourmet.com.

The Beef: Avoid premade patties. Select 85 percent lean ground beef for the right balance of texture, flavor and juiciness. Meat should be pink with no gray.

The Patties: Figure 1/3- to 1/2-pound patties; any thinner and it is difficult to avoid overcooking. Form patties that are 3/4-inch thick and 3/4-inch larger in diameter than the buns. Try not to overwork the meat as you form each patty. Recess the middle of each patty so that the patties are thinner in the center than at the edges. Brush the patties with olive oil and season liberally with salt.

The Grill: Grill burgers over a hot fire (600 degrees). Toast buns on a warming rack or a cooler place on the grill (400 degrees). The dry heat of a charcoal fire delivers the best crust on the outside of the burger, but if a gas fire is hot enough it will still make a great burger.

The Buns: Freshly baked soft rolls are ideal, and should be the same diameter as the finished patties. Slice, brush with olive oil and season with a little salt. When the burgers are nearly done, lightly toast the buns, being careful not to overcook.

Reader Request: Blackberry Roll

I would love to find a dessert for my husband that his grandmother would make that was blackberries, sugar and butter rolled up in a dough and put in the blackberry juice in a pan. He has always called it Blackberry Butter Roll.

Dianne, Warner Robins, Georgia

A. This recipe is one I’ve carted around since I was a college freshman in Missouri; I tasted butter roll for the first time when I went to my roommate’s home for a weekend. We picked the blackberries ourselves, and her mom whipped up dessert. The combination of buttery crispness and sweet berry was irresistible. I hope it is close to what your husband remembers.

Cooking Up Charity

•  Now through October, the proceeds from five spatulas with designs by chefs — April Bloomfield, Tyler Florence (artwork by daughter Dorothy, age 5), Suzanne Goin, Bryan Voltaggio (artwork by son Thatcher, age 6) and Michael Voltaggio — go to No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength, a nonprofit committed to ending childhood hunger in America. The spatulas are $12.95 at Williams-Sonoma.
•  Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth (Flipany) fights childhood obesity and hunger by teaching children and their families how to make healthy food choices, cook healthy meals and shop for nutritious foods on a budget. The Skillet Granola recipe here is from one of the classes.

Chefs Up Front is a fundraiser for Flipany in which patrons get a five-course meal prepared and presented by some of the area’s best-known chefs. Tickets ($175) are available for the 6 p.m. seating Sept. 5 at The Biltmore in Coral Gables. flipany.org.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Dessert

Blackberry Butter Roll

2 cups fresh blackberries

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, cold

About 3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter, cut in several small pieces

Place the blackberries in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 cup of the sugar, and mix. Use a potato masher to break up about half the berries in the bowl. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cut in 1/4 cup of the butter using a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or a brief pulsing of a food processor, until the butter is in small clumps, about rice size. Stir in 1/2 cup of milk, then add enough extra by the tablespoonful to make a soft dough. Sprinkle flour lightly on a cutting board and roll dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Use a slotted spoon to take blackberry pulp and whole berries from the bowl and spread to about 1/2-inch of edge. Add 3/4 cup hot water to the blackberry syrup from the bowl. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Cut into 8 equal slices. Melt the remaining butter in an 8-inch baking dish and add the slices cut side down. Pour the blackberry liquid around the slices. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until dough is golden and cooked through, and syrup is bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 485 calories, 26 g fat, 2 g protein, 61 g carbohydrates, 34 g sugar, 240 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner.

Condiment

Rosemary Aioli

Leaves pulled from 3 sprigs rosemary

1 large clove garlic, peeled

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the rosemary, garlic and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Process until the rosemary is finely ground. Transfer to a smaller vessel with a spout and reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the salt. (Note: the more wires your whisk has, the easier it will be to make this mayonnaise). Whisk in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Add a few drops of the rosemary olive oil and whisk briskly. Repeat, adding a small amount of olive oil each time. Once you have added 1/3 of the olive oil, add another teaspoon of the lemon juice. Continue adding olive oil a few drops at a time and whisking, until 2/3 of the olive oil has been added. Whisk in the remaining lemon juice. At this point, you can pour a thin stream of the olive oil while whisking constantly. When finished, you should have a smooth and stable mayonnaise texture. However, it can separate after a time. Cover and refrigerate, and use it within 1 hour.

Per serving: 165 calories, 18 g fat, 0 g protein, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 126 mg sodium.

Source: Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

Snack

Skillet Granola

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

2 tablespoons wheat bran

2 tablespoons nuts, optional (almonds, pecans, macadamia, walnuts)

1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (such as raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates, prunes, pineapple, coconut), cut into bite sized pieces

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of sea salt

Heat oil and honey in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to come to a boil (it will look foamy). Stir in oats, wheat bran and nuts, coating thoroughly. Stir in dried fruit and spices. Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until oats are light brown and toasted. Remove from heat and allow to cool 15 minutes or more. Oats will crisp up as they cool. When cool, break up any large clumps. To store, put into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner.

About Linda Cicero

Mary Sanchez
Linda Cicero started Cook's Corner while food editor of the Herald. "Nothing makes me happier than gathering family and friends in the kitchen, reveling in the camaraderie as we chop and whisk away," she says.

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