Thursday, August 2, 2012

Forrest's Famous Burgers, If you have had them, you know!

OK, it's summer and it's time for grilling and the roof here in NYC. I have a great roof deck. And I love to entertain. So that being said, work has slowed down in the catering business, the grill is on and the weather is hot, so it's up to the roof for some hanging out time.

Now one of the staples of the American Grill Experience has got to be the Burger. Oh and by Burger I mean Cheeseburger, cause what else is there really! When I was a kid we lived in very tropical and sub tropical climes. My Dad and Mom both were big fans of the grill, and as a little boy especially when we were stationed in Hawaii ( yes navy brat here ) we spent plenty of nights cooking out. Now my Dad did a lot of the cooking and he would whip up some tasty things. Especially loved the steaks, done Hawaiian style, which was popular at the moment. And I loved his burgers.

Now that being said I am not sure to this day who came up with the seasoning that went into the Hedden Family burger mix. It could have been my Dad or my Mom, but it could also have been my Grandmother Irene, my mom's mom, who lived with us from the time I was in 2nd grade on. She and my Mom split duty in the kitchen and so you never were sure where and who invented some of the wonderful recipes I remember eating growing up. So it is with the burger spice mix. but I will get to that. First let's just talk about burgers.

OK, now today we have an explosion of Burger technical knowledge going on. The Food Network has stars like Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence providing no end of burger expertise and advice. The science of making the best burger is really amazing and people are invested fully in it. Chefs everywhere seek out the right custom meat blends and place emphasis on the most organic and obscure ingredients to differ their burger from the next. I mean short rib mixed with sirloin, mixed with pork shoulder. I mean come on, pork shoulder in a burger??? But nonetheless these guys are serious about what they are doing and take things to extremes of taste and texture never before seen. And we haven't ever started to discuss the bun or the cheese or the condiments! Wow, too much work Maria!

Well back in the late seventies we didn't have such luxuries, and even if they had existed, we were a poor military family living on foods from the commissary! No such meat blends there. No so as I approach making burgers I do it like my Dad did, use what you got! And that meant ground Chuck. Yes, the ole staple of the supermarket bargain brand. Now mind you they did try for the lower fat content, but ground Chuck is ground Chuck. And fat equals flavor, so they were onto something even with such a pedestrian meat choice!

The other element of the burger was the spices they put in them. Now I know what some of you are thinking! Sacrilege!! Spices in the meat. Well, yes that was the way it was done. I mean who wants just beef flavor? Well, believe me I know how good that can be and i know meat should speak for itself, but indulge me. I getting at a flavor profile here that is a little different. So, back to the spices. I am to this day not completely sure of the spice blend and have since made it my own but i can tell you the basic elements are the following, Worchestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper. That's it. Very basic but the quantities are important. Basically lots of the sauce, onion and garlic. A little salt and a good dose of pepper. Sometimes there would be chopped onions in it, sometimes not. I like the not, but sometimes there were. This when placed in the meat creates amazing beefy flavor. People love it. I have now been making these burgers for at least 10 years in NYC and I can say without exception people always want the recipe. I tell them what I will tell you, it's all in the feel, just add in what you want and how much you want. These are the ingredients, make it your own!

OK, now we get to the other elements of what makes my burger, my burger. I am talking cheese and condiments. So to make a Forrest Burger it's quite simple. But let me explain. When I make a burger I make you a burger. This is not Burger King and unless you have an allergy you will eat it MY way! Just kidding, well just a little. Actually when I do burgers I serve them fully dressed and skewered with a long pick to hold it together. So you get the full effect! I mean it's a chefs creation here so just go with it!

Ok Bun, let's talk Bun. I have to say I love a potato roll. Martin's potato rolls are some how amazing! But I would not say no to a really lovely seeded hamburger bun if top quality, nor to a brioche if very fresh and not all dried out. Or you could go old school and use a sesame bun. So those are the choices, mostly using the potato rolls cause I love them and they are very easy to find!

And then the Cheese, well I have to say I like yellow sharp Cheddar slices from the dairy case. Nothing too fancy I am afraid. Melted nicely on the patty and then served onto the bun.

Finally condiments, well  here's the trick. I use the basics and include one thing that's a little different but I find brings it to a home run. So that being said the condiments are mayo on both sides of the bun, on the top bun a little ketchup and mustard ( yellow), then a thin slice of tomato the same size as the bun, and shredded romaine lettuce mixed with a little bit of mayo. Then on the bottom bun a nice smear of hickory flavored BBQ sauce. Yes it must be hickory. Kraft makes a good one.

And that is it. So this is all stacked on top of the beef patty which sits directly on the bottom bun.  Skewered with a long pick and served up either on the plate or on a platter for a buffet. And that if it. Enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's famous Burger's
Makes 10 burgers

3 pounds of ground meat 80/20 min fat content chuck or mix of sirloin and chuck
3/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce (I use the French's version of the bottled sauce)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 tablespoon oil
salt to taste

The Cheese:
Slices of good quality sharp yellow cheddar cheese

Martin's Potato Roll Large dinner rolls or burger buns

2 1/2 cups shredded Romain lettuce
10 center cut tomato slices from beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup chopped white onion
30 slices of dill pickles 3 per burger

Yellow Mustard
Hickory flavored BBQ sauce


Mix meat gently with the spices don't over mix
form into 6 burger patties ( I use a metal burger form)
Before grilling use your thumb and press an indentation in the center of each burger this will keep them from puffing up during cooking.

Over a hot grill, coals or on a griddle cook 3 to 4 mins per side for med rare turning once and don't press the juice out of the burger just let them get a good sear on them. Melt the cheese 1 to 2 mins before you pull them off the grill.

Toast the buns on the heat and spread with a slather of mayo
spread a nice smear of BBQ sauce on the bottom bun and place the dill slices and onions on it
When burgers are done place on the bottom bun
top with lettuce then tomato slice
Place a good smear of ketchup and mustard on the top bun an close
Skewer with a 6 in restaurant wooden pick if you can find them or a skewer of any kind.

Serve up with a loaded baked potato or salads for a summer buffet

Enjoy Ya'll!!!

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