Burgers all Month Long!

Burgers 4 ways all month long! Garden Vegetable Burgers;
Beef Stuffed with Bleu Cheese; Asian Pork Burgers; Lamb Burgers with Cucumber Sauce
In honor of the start of barbecue season, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and just about any other Merry Day of May, I'm sharing several recipes for burgers.  Beef and Bleu Cheese Burgers; Asian Pork Burgers on Lettuce Wraps; Lamb Burgers with Cumber Yogurt Sauce with Feta and Tomatoes; and Garden Vegetable Burgers with Mango Salsa.  I have a burger for just about every week of the month, cooked in a variety of ways, allowing you to change up your repertoire all month long.  Get your grill ready, or pull out the grill pans.  Some of these burgers are baked, some are pan seared.  No matter what your cooking method or taste desires, I have a burger for you!

Nate and I at McFarlan's Collingswood Market
with Mr. and Mrs. McFarlan's doppelgängers!


I found all sorts of good fresh meats at McFarlan's Collingswood Market - extremely tasty beef; fresh ground pork; and ground lamb that was quite tender and not at all "gamey' tasting.  I think I enjoyed making and eating each burger more than I thought I would.  The spoils of being a food writer is that you get to enjoy what you create.  We're lucky to have a great butcher's counter in our community, providing fresh products that I can buy quickly on my way home from work each night.  Between the Farmers' Market on Saturdays and McFarlan's open every day of the week, I have all I need right here in my little home town.

Garden Vegetable Cakes or Burgers - Baked, not fried for a healthier burger
First up in a Garden Vegetable Burger.  For this one, you need a variety of root vegetables - Russet/Idaho Potatoes; Sweet Potatoes; Onions; Parsnips and Carrots.  You also need flour, eggs, salt, pepper and cumin.  These are oven baked, so they are lower in fat and much healthier than anything fried or grilled.  You can eat them on a sandwich or burger bun, or you can skip the additional carbs and eat them plain with a side of Mango Salsa.  To make these gluten free - you'll need to swap out the flour and use an alternative binding flour such as rice flour, chickpea flour or flax meal.  To make these vegan, swap out the egg and use an egg substitute such as ground flax seed meal and water.  The main trick to making these is to coarsely shred the vegetables and wring out some of the water the veggies give off.

Coarsely Shred the vegetables, then mix in the seasonings and binding agents
Form into equal portions and place onto a prepared baking sheet
Bake the garden vegetable cakes for about 35-40 minutes
Garden Vegetable Cakes - Ingredients
  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato
  • 1 Medium/Large Idaho Potato
  • 1 Large Parsnip
  • 2 Large Carrots
  • 1 Large Yellow or Spanish Onion
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour – (to start, use more if needed) 
Equipment:
  • Box Grater, or Shredding Blade and Food processor
  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper, tin foil or a Silpat for baking
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Light Olive Oil for baking
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment, tin foil or a silpat and coat with oil – using enough to oven-fry your vegetable cakes – but not so much that you are deep frying them! Set the baking sheet aside.
  3. Scrub and peel all the vegetables. Either using the coarse side of a box grater, or the shredding disk of a food processor, grate the vegetables. Squeeze out excess water from the shredded vegetables.
  4. Put all the shredded vegetables into a large bowl and mix until well combined. Add the eggs, cumin and salt and pepper. Mix again until incorporated.
  5. Add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until mixture will hold together and form a sticky ball. Use more flour if necessary, but do not use too much or else your garden cakes will be too heavy.
  6. Use a 4 or 6 oz ice-cream scoop or a ½ measuring cup, to scoop out the vegetable mixture and place onto the baking sheet. Smooth down the tops so it resembles a patty. 
  7. Bake 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  8. With a spatula, carefully turn the patties over and bake another 15-20 minutes. 
  9. Garden cakes are done when they are medium golden brown on both sides and tender inside. Garden cakes can be served hot or warm with salsa, as a garden burger on a bun. 
  10. Makes 1 dozen garden burger cakes.  These freeze well. Wrap each individual in plastic wrap, parchment paper or wax paper,  then add to a freezer bag or container.  Will keep frozen for up to 3 months.  To reheat, these can be defrosted in the microwave or allow to thaw and then reheat in the oven for 15 minutes.
Mango Salsa for a sweet and spicy side kick
Mango Salsa Ingredients:
  • 3 Plum Tomatoes - cut in half and seeded, then small dice
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1/2 Jalapeno - seeded and minced
  • 1 Ripe Mango - peeled and small dice
  • 1/2 Medium White Onion - small dice
  • 1/2 Small-Medium Red Bell Pepper - small dice
  • 1 Lime - Zest and  Juice - use a micro planer to zest the lime then juice it
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro - loosely packed - rough chop
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • 4-5 Dashes Hot Sauce - optional
Directions:
  1. Prepare all the vegetables and fruit as directed. Add each diced, minced or prepared item to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. 
  2. Add in both the lime zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Season with hot sauce if desired. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving. Will hold up to 3 days tightly covered and refrigerated.
Beef and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Caramelized Onions Ingredients:
Bleu Cheese Stuffed Beef Burgers topped with Balsamic Caramelized Onions
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef - choose 80/20 for juicy burgers; 90/10 for a leaner burger.  
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Bleu Cheese - Crumbles or pieces; divide into four equal portions
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 1 Medium Onion - cut into half moon slices
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Directions:
  1. Put the ground beef into a mixing bowl and season with the Worcestershire sauce, a generous pinch of salt and three or four grinds of black pepper.  Divide the beef into four equal portions and form into rounds.  Remove some of the meat from each burger ball and make a divot in the center with your thumb.  Stuff each patty with the bleu cheese crumbles and then cover each patty with the meat you removed.  Form each into a ball and then press out into a burger shape using either a burger press or the lid of a large jar such as a mayonnaise jar.  Set aside.  Sprinkle the tops of each burger with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. 
  2. If grilling on a grill or grill pan, be sure the grill is preheated and very hot, then lower the heat to medium and place the burgers onto the prepared grill.  Alternatively, you can pan sear the burgers in a skillet over medium-high heat, 5 minutes on the first side, then three minutes on the second side for medium rare burgers.  For medium well burgers, cook for 5 minutes on each side.  
  3. To make the caramelized onions, remove the burgers from the pan, cover loosely with foil and set aside.  In the pan in which you cooked the burgers, add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil an scrape up some of the browned bits.  Next, add in the onions and stir/saute for 8-10 minutes over medium high heat, until the onions turn translucent.  Then add in the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine and reduce the vinegar until the pan is almost dry.
  4. Serve with Sirracha mustard (Dijon mustard mixed with Sirracha Hot Sauce), or a spicy ketchup, or w/Sirracha Horseradish sauce, and top with the onions.  Makes four 1/4 pound burgers.

Asian Pork Burgers with Lettuce Wraps and Pickled Vegetables Ingredients:

Asian-Inspired Pork Burgers - served in a lettuce wrap
  • 1 Pound Ground Pork
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sirracha Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • Juice and Zest of 1 Orange
  • Boston or Bibb Lettuce Leaves - 2 per burger
  • Chinese Hot Mustard or Sirracha Horseradish, or Sirracha Ketchup for dipping
  • Pickled Vegetables  - side optional
Directions:
  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.
  2. While the grill is preheating, put the pork into a mixing bowl and add the soy sauce through zest and juice of the orange.  Stir gently to combine all the ingredients.  Alternatively, if you want, you can use a combination of Soy Sauce and Teriyaki marinade along with the juice and zest of an orange.  Use a Tablespoon of Soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the prepared marinade.
  3. Divide the pork into four equal portions and form into patties.  Test grill to see if it's hot enough, when a drop of water splashed onto the grill sizzles and evaporates immediately when it hits the grill. Reduce heat to medium-high.  Place the burgers onto the grill and sear on the first side for 5-6 minutes or until they can be easily lifted off with a spatula.  Cook the second side for 3-4 minutes more.  The burgers are done when they are no longer bright pink in the center and the juices start to run clear.
  4. Take two Boston Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce leaves and wrap the burgers in them.  Serve with Sirracha ketchup or Sirracha Horseradish Sauce on the side and a side of pickled vegetables.  
  5. Makes four 1/4 pound burgers.  

Lamb Burgers w/Cucumber Yogurt Sauce topped w/Feta, Mint and Tomatoes Ingredients:
Lamb Burgers with Cucumber Sauce, topped with Lettuce, Mint, Tomatoes and Feta Cheese
For Burgers:
  • 1 pound Ground Lamb
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano or 1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive oil - for searing burgers
For Cucumber Sauce:  You can use a store-bought Tzatziki sauce or make this delicious home-made version:
  • 1 Cup Non or Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Small Baby or Persian Cucumber - grated on the small holes of a box grater (if using a traditional cucumber, peel and seed the cucumber then grate it.  Use about half a regular sized cucumber.  You want to yield about 3/4 cup grated cucumber.
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint - minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon - minced (or 1 Teaspoon Dried Tarragon)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives - minced (or 1/1 Tablespoon Dried Chives)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Celery Seed or a few dashes of all-purpose seasoning blend such as Mrs. Dash
  • Pinch of Salt and a few grinds of ground black pepper
For serving burgers:
  • 1/2 pound Feta Cheese - (Use a few tablespoons or pieces per burger)
  • 2 Plum Tomatoes - sliced into thin rounds (use about 2-3 slices per burger)
  • 12 Mint Leaves (2-3 per burger)
  • 4 Flat Breads or Small Pitas (1 per burger)
  • Cucumber Sauce
Directions:
  1. Make the cucumber yogurt sauce first, so the flavors will have time to develop.  Grate the cucumber and add it to a mixing bowl, then add in yogurt, zest and juice of 1 lemon, mint, tarragon, chives, olive oil, celery seed or seasoning blend.  Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings adding in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.  Sauce can be made up to several days ahead and will hold for up to 5 days. The sauce is excellent on vegetables, baked or mashed potatoes, or with other proteins such as salmon or chicken. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb with paprika, salt, pepper and oregano. Divide the mixture into four equal portions and form each portion into a patty.  Season each burger lightly with a dash of salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat your grill, grill pan or if cooking inside, a heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the burgers onto the grill or pan and sear for 5 minutes on each side.  Burgers are cooked through when they are not longer bright pink and the juices begin to run clear.  
  4. To serve, lay out your flat bread or cut a slit into the pita bread and stuff with lettuce, tomatoes, mint leaves, feta cheese. Put the burger inside the pita or onto the flat bread.  Top with cucumber yogurt sauce.  Use additional cucumber sauce on the side for dipping.  Makes four 1/4 pound burgers.

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