Thursday, December 8, 2011

burger night

I used to love to go out for a juicy burger topped with mushroom and swiss and a side of sweet potato fries. It's one of those meals you can get anywhere, from dives to upscale sports bars, and everyone has their own unique take on it. However, my fear of gluten cross contamination has made it impossible for me to order a burger. Sure they can make it without the bun, but most likely a bun has been on that same grill where they cook your burger once before. My cousin, who has a wheat allergy, requests that her burger be cooked on a piece of aluminum foil. Brilliant. I've tried to do the same a few times but most people look at me like I'm crazy. So I guess my best option is to try to recreate the experience at home, and maybe even try to make it a bit healthier at the same time.

I rarely make burgers at home. Heck, I rarely cook any meat at home. It scares me. I'm afraid of overcooking it and I'm afraid of undercooking it. But the truth is, I haven't tried cooking meat enough to get better at it. Time to change that. And I'm glad I did because that burger was yummy. Here's how you can make the same for your burger night . . .

Patty up the burgers and season them with a bit of sea salt, black pepper, and poultry seasoning. (I made my turkey burgers from a mix of ground turkey breast and ground turkey thigh meat.) Lay the burgers in a grill pan over medium heat and let them sizzle away. If you make a turkey burger like I did, make sure that the meat is fully cooked. Because I'm still learning, my meat thermometer is my go-to helper any time I try to cook meat. Just before reaching the fully cooked temp, top the burgers with some swiss cheese, so the cheese will get soft and gooey. After cooking the meat, my burgers were marbled in color because of the mix of light and dark meat I used. It looked a little unusual but they had great flavor.

For the mushrooms, I chopped a couple medium-sized portobello mushrooms (stems removed) and a small shallot and sauteed them in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. I cooked them until they softened and added about 1/3 cup of Marsala wine. After the wine reduced, I took the mushroom mix out of the pan and set it aside in a bowl. Then I lightly sauteed some arugula to make a nice spicy, green bed for the burger.

And although I love sweet potato fries, I was completely out of sweet potatoes. Instead, I made some carrot "fries" by roasting some carrots in the oven, simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil.

It was a nice, quick, comforting dinner that satisfied my burger cravings . . . but left me wanting more!

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