Okay it might sound ordinary, but our Valentine’s Day dinner was burgers. Home made burgers of course. In some ways it was extraordinary because it is so unexpected. On an occasion when others are splurging on expensive meals, a burger bucks the Valentine’s Day trend. But, that said, it isn’t why we decided on burgers. Mainly, it was Omar’s request. Since I’m often experimenting with new recipes, I tend to neglect the some of the “plain” stuff. A burger is a burger to me, and if I’m to consume large amounts of animal protein, I will almost always prefer lamb, steak, duck, even chicken, over a burger. On the other hand, a burger is one of Omar’s favorite foods.
So, to make our burgers special, we committed to make everything from scratch. We ground the meat for the burgers and I made the hamburger buns from scratch. We also threw in some potatoes into the oven for some oven roasted home fries. It was fun being in the kitchen together and the burgers were delicious. Our recipe for the burgers and the buns follow.
One of the distinct advantages to grinding beef at home is control. You know exactly what goes into it. Many recipes call for a mix of chuck and sirloin. We used two sirloin steaks. One of the keys, if you are making burgers, it to make sure there is some fat in the mix. The meat grinding was quick and easy with a food processor. We had never done it before, and it was surprisingly successful. I’m afraid we may have a set a new precedent for grinding all of our meat at home.
40 MINUTE HAMBURGER BUNS
This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found on food.com found here. First, as usual, I used olive oil instead of the vegetable oil. I then baked the buns on parchment paper rather than a greased sheet and I found that the recipe did not call for enough flour. Even if the addition of another ¾ cup of flour, the dough in this recipe is REALLY sticky. It is so sticky that I almost sent Omar out to the grocery store to buy buns while these were in the oven because I was almost sure they weren’t going to turn out. Thank goodness for his confidence in me, because they turned out beautifully.
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
1 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup sugar
1 egg (ROOM TEMPERATURE!!!)
1 teaspoon salt
4-4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Pre-heat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let the yeast activate for 1-2 minutes. Add the oil and sugar, stir gently and let it rest for another 4 minutes. Add the egg, salt and 3 cups of flour and begin to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface, I usually do this on a wooden cutting board. The add flour as needed to create a workable dough and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and is elastic. You should not let the dough rise.
The dough might still be very sticky. For me, the dough was so sticky that I had to use a large spoon to drop onto the parchment-lined sheet because it was too sticky to roll into a ball. The dough clumps I dropped onto the parchment paper were about 2 inches in diameter, larger than a ping pong ball, smaller than a tennis ball. Place the pieces about 2-3 inches apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes, preferably in a warm place.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks. Slice and serve!
2 NY sirloin steaks, cut into ½ inch chunks (cold)
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Make sure the steak is cold. You want to make sure the fat doesn’t melt and the cold temperature will also help ensure uniform processing. Drop all of the ingredients into the food processor.
PULSE, do not keep the processor on continuously. Pulse in 1-2 second bursts for 10-15 pulses. Start checking the consistency after the first 8-9 pulses and keep checking after each pulse after that for the proper consistency. You want uniform grinding so you can create burger patties. With cold hands form into ½ inch thick patties and form a small indentation with your thumb in the center of the patties. This helps to create a flat surfaced burger as it cooks (easier for your toppings!). Because you have so much control over the consistency, I found that we did not need to add an egg, bread or breadcrumbs to bind the patties. They kept together well on their own.
Since it is winter in DC, we grilled these on a cast iron grill on the stove over high heat, but you can certainly throw it on the grill, about 4 minutes per side for medium. Flip ONCE and resist any temptation to press the patties—you don’t want to press out all of the juice! If you’d like, you can melt the cheese right on the patty after you flip the patties. Let the juices settle in the burger for about 5 minutes before serving. We enjoyed ours with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce and some cheddar cheese.