Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Burgers 2.0

It’s that time of year again: the air is warmer, the days are longer, and the backyard grills are emerging from their months of hibernation. Walk down any neighborhood street on a balmy Saturday afternoon and chances are you’ll be greeted with the deep, smoky scent of outdoor cooking wafting from over a nearby fence.

Burgers have long been a mainstay of the neighborhood cookout, thanks to their simplicity and near-universal appeal. Gourmet (and not-so gourmet) chefs have been spending recent years concocting creative and sometimes outrageous ways of reinventing the humble combo of patty-on-a-bun, from adventurous alligator and kangaroo burgers to the Kobe beef, black truffle, and gold flakes whoppers being served up in Manhattan for a small fortune. For those of you who’d like to extend your burger repertoire without exceeding your budget, you might try these scrumptious (and gold-less) alternatives:

Herbal Hamburger

Melt 1 T. butter with 1⁄2 t. dried rosemary in a frying pan. Stir a bit to let rosemary flavor butter. (Don’t brown butter.) Add about 1 lb. hamburger shaped into patties, and cook. Remove hamburgers when done. Add another 1 T. butter to pan drippings together with 1⁄2 t. dry mustard and a dash Worcestershire sauce. Stir a minute. Pour over hamburgers.

Mushroom Burgers

Stir together in a bowl 1⁄4 lb. cleaned, finely chopped mushrooms, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1⁄4 c. bread crumbs (the homemade kind), 2 beaten eggs, 3⁄4 c. grated Cheddar cheese, and salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. Form into hamburger-type patties and fry in a pan on very low heat. Tastes even better if you put some garlic slices in the pan to float around and cook with it. Done when crisp on the outside and moist inside.

Vegan Pecan Burgers

Combine 1 c. ground unroasted pecans, 1 c. wheat germ, 1 c. bran flakes, 1 c. grated onion, 2⁄3 c. grated carrot, 1 T. tamari, and water enough to moisten, if needed. Shape the mix into patties. Fry on a nonstick or potato-rubbed skillet. Serve on buns together with your favorite toppings.

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