Monday, November 8, 2010

Grilled lamb burgers sweet potato chips and all the fixings

Having moved from vegetarian to marketarian, we have discovered a new favorite dish: lamb burgers. Mince an onion and saute it in a little fat, and then mix it with ground meat, maybe some minced herbs, and an egg yolk. Actually, don't use an egg yolk: for an extra treat, swap the egg for a dollop of homemade mayonnaise. Then form in to patties, dredge with flour if you like, and fry in the same pan you cooked the onions in, or grill.

Don't have homemade mayonnaise? You should. Our very easy recipe is from the great Julia Child: in the food processor, mix one egg plus two yolks, a heaping teaspoon of prepared mustard, a little salt, and a tablespoon of acid, for about thirty seconds. Then, with the machine running, slowly drizzle in between one and two cups oil (use a good oil, but it's fine to mix: I usually combine olive and peanut oils).

Our always side with burgers are sweet potatoes, in some sort of fry/chip form. Slice some sweet potatoes, one large or two small per person, and toss with olive oil, salt, paprika, and cumin. Then bake or grill them. Grilled sweet potatoes are lovely, and give you a chance to warm up the grill before cooking the meat.

For fixings, open some jars of homemade pickles and ketchup. For a quick dill pickle, clean some jars, and add a clove or two of garlic, cleaned sliced cucumber (be sure to remove the area right next to the flower, as it contains enzymes that make the pickle lose its crispness), and a tablespoon or so of dill seed, mustard seed, black pepper, and maybe a bay leaf or some fennel seed. Combine equal parts water and distilled vinegar, and maybe a third as much non-iodized salt (the iodine can throw off the pickling), over the stove until bubbling and the salt has dissolved. Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers, and either seal the jars in the canner or keep in the refrigerator. If you prefer sweet pickles, add plenty of sugar to the brine, and instead of garlic and dill use sliced onion and some whole cloves (keep the mustard). Ketchup is a bit more involved: cook tomatoes, onions, and a bell pepper with a bag of whole spices (allspice, celery seed, etc.); drain; puree; add vinegar, sugar, salt, paprika; cook until the correct consistency.

Slice up some cheese, a garden tomato, and some red onion. We usually make our own burger buns (your favorite whole wheat dough works well), but this time we had an "herb slab" from Acme Bread. Serve burgers with a hearty red wine on the sweeter side.

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