Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is This Awesome? Y/N

My friend Elise recently had a day that may or may not have been crappy.

Do y'all know what I mean? One of those days where crappy stuff happened, and awesome stuff happened, but sometimes the awesome stuff came attached to the crappy, and all it does is confuse you. Am I having a bad day or not?

That was all of yesterday, and pretty much most of my morning.

It positively POURED rain all day yesterday, so much so that it made it impossible for me to get over to the old house and move stuff, but I have all week to finally get to it, so instead I spent the day cleaning this house, doing laundry, and making granola and later Red Beans and Rice.

To blatantly steal from Elise, I ask you: Is this awesome? y/n

To be fair, most of the rest of the events fell rather firmly in either camp, but there were so many of each that I'm still not sure if one column canceled the other out. Did I have a crappy day, and am I still, or no?

The cats peed on a dog bed because they hate their new litter. Boo. But, I thankfully I figured out why and can now switch back, and at least they peed on something I can easily throw in the wash, AND it seems to be an isolated incident of anger. So, yay. The dogs threw up pink slime because they got into a box of red and white icing flowers for a cake. Definitely Boo. They did not do this on my white carpet. Yay. My dad is here, the red beans were awesome, and my brother is coming later this week. All Yays. It's going to be 70 degrees today. YAY. Tonight's dinner includes both Mashed Potatoes AND Peas. YAY YAY YAY.

I was driving Matt to work this morning (we're down to one car this week [boo] because my dad is borrowing the other while he's in town working on the house [yay]--which leads us to, awesome? y/n ) and he asked me, "When you have a bad morning, do you automatically think the rest of the day is doomed, or do you think it can only go uphill from here?" I told him I don't pick. And I don't, because I never know, my day can turn on a dime, and does, and will. I'm hoping for a good one (when I just typed that, I typed "hopping" first, which I think is hilarious, I may just *have* to hop for a good day now). But only time will tell, y'all. Cross your fingers.

In an act of good karma, I give you, The Ultimate Old-Fashioned Burger, a recipe via the test kitchens of Cook's Illustrated. When Matt and I first bit into these burgers, I named them something else immediately, but I cannot repeat it here on my family-friendly blog. Suffice it to say, they are freakin' delicious.

Ultimate Old-Fashioned Burgers

The goal of this recipe is to recreate the style of burger that sprung up in California in the 1940’s. Different from the large pub-style burgers popular in restaurants served char-grilled and rare in the center, these burgers forgo the rare meat and size in exchange for flavor. The meat is ground in the food processor, which allows you to keep it very loosely packed, and the patties are thin, which maximizes the amount of crispy browning that takes place on its exterior. American cheese is the classic choice for these burgers, because of its meltability. When heated on top of the burger, it melts into a sauce that seeps into the craggy surface of the burger. It's important to use very soft buns.

Ultimate Old-Fashioned Burgers
Makes 4 Burgers

Sirloin steak tips are also sold as flap meat. Visually inspect the meat coming out of the food processor in step two. If there are any long strands of gristle, or large chunks of hard meat or fat, discard them before forming patties. It is very important not to compact the meat at all after grinding it - the burgers should have an airy, open structure. We prefer to serve our burgers with American cheese, thinly sliced onions, and burger spread, but other toppings can be added or substituted at your option.

10 ounces sirloin steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 ounces boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 soft hamburger buns
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese
Thinly sliced onion
1 recipe Classic Burger Spread (recipe follows)

1. Place beef chunks on baking sheet in single layer, leaving ½ inch of space between each chunk. Freeze meat until very firm and starting to harden around edges, but is still pliable, 15 to 25 minutes.

2. Place half of meat in food processor and pulse until meat is coarsely ground, about 10 one-second pulses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure beef is evenly ground. Transfer meat to clean baking sheet and repeat with remaining meat.

3. Divide ground meat into 4 equal mounds. Without picking meat up, gently shape each mound into loose patty 1/2-inch thick and 4-inches in diameter, leaving edges and surface ragged. Season top of each patty liberally with salt and pepper; refrigerate while toasting buns.

4. Melt half of butter in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium heat until foaming. Add bun tops, cut-side down and toast until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and bun bottoms. Set buns aside and wipe out skillet with paper towels.

5. Return skillet to high heat; add vegetable oil and heat until just smoking. Using spatula, transfer burgers to skillet, salted-side down, and cook without moving for 3 minutes. While burgers cook, season other side liberally with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip burgers over and cook for one minute. Top each patty with slice of cheese and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

6. Transfer patties to bun bottoms and top with onion. Spread 1 teaspoon of burger spread on each bun top; cover burger and serve immediately.

Classic Burger Spread
Makes about 3/4 cup

This recipe produces a Thousand Island-style dressing that is the traditional topping for this style of burger.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides as necessary.

This stove-top version will be great for all you snow-bound friends out there who couldn't get to your grills now if you wanted to. Matt and I made caramelized onions instead of using raw, and we did make the burger sauce--it melts into the toasty bun beautifully, practically disappears, which is great for me because mayo on a burger sends me into all kinds of spazms. I might add some sauteed mushrooms for myself, but otherwise, these are perfect, just perfect. Don't dream of adding tomato or lettuce, this burger is sinful and should be, fresh vegetables will just muck that up.

Enjoy, y'all, and if you make 'em, let me know how it went!


Quirky said...

Hope your day turned out not to be so crappy afterall! These burgers sound delicious!

KatieKate said...

I can never decide on those kind of days either. And, if the roof falls in at 4pm but the rest of the day was glorious, that counts as a crappy day for me too. I dunno. Sometimes... it's healthy to have a bad day and just dig into it :)

Thanks for the burger recipe!!!

CortneyTree said...

Thanks for the well-wishes, both of you :) The weather is so completely awesome at this moment, that the day is definitely leaning toward the happy end of the spectrum.

And y'all, seriously, try these burgers. They were so good we spent the entire meal laughing in disbelief at our good fortune to be eating them. THAT is good food, kids.

Honeyspy said...

haha! It's all very zen isn't it? :)

Jessica, Myron and Rylie said...

mmmmm no matter what if I had THAT burger and a Fat tire (our colorado beer of choice) my day would end on on the upside!!!

sunday said...

darn it we just had burgers last night. i have to say they were great though. i will try this out next time. sometimes you just have "one of those days". i am with katie. you just have to embrace it sometimes.

Honeyspy said...

Oh and hey! You're down for Tuesday pottery. Wednesday and Thursday are full and have waiting lists, so Jackie is starting to light fires under people for payments/confirmations in the rest of the classes. You can post-date the check for 3/6/08.

CortneyTree said...

Thanks Elise, I'll send it ASAP! I can NOT wait, I have lots of ideas :)

Courtney said...

I think I'm going to try these hamburgers.. it's my boyfriend's favorite food.. and these sounded really good!

I'm not a stalker.. just a friend of Sunday's who saw her bread I mean your bread.. and since I like cooking too.. I must admit I've been checking out your page!

CortneyTree said...

The more Co(u)rtneys, the merrier! Glad you joined us :) There's a lot of good cooks in our little blog-o-sphere, aren't there?

Courtney said...

I know Sunday is better than me.. and I bet you are too.. but keep those recepies coming!