Monday, July 14, 2008

Skillet Burgers and Corn on the Cob

So this isn't really a recipe, more like filler, I mean a technique post. Yeah. And it certainly has nothing to do with it just happening to be what I made for dinner tonight and being bored. We will be covering two things, first burgers and second corn on the cob. Ah, burgers. One of natures perfect foods. They are one of my favorite things. If my apartment had a yard or a porch I would grill them. But I can't.. well, unless I set up a grill in my parking space. But if I did that I would probably get hit by a neighbors car while they were using it without my permission. But that's beside the point. Grilled is best, but nothing, not even something as devastating as not having a grill, is going to stop me from eating burgers. So I fry them. Sometimes I use my cast iron skillet, but I haven't been using it much lately so the seasoning is all messed up. So I am using my stainless steel skillet. It works fine, you just need to grease it. I am using bacon grease. If I had bacon I would also be putting that on them, but all I have is some saved drippings. My girlfriend may not be into cheese, but our mutual love of bacon helps ...grease... the wheels of our relationship. Eh, eh? Ah, forget it.
Bacon is also one of natures perfect foods. How I miss the days of my childhood, wandering through the bacon patch, picking rashers at the height of the season... wait, never mind. Don't worry about that. Ok, fine. I will get back to the point.
The most important thing to know about cooking burgers, in my opinion, is to not listen to what anyone says is the "right" way, except the person who is going to eat it. I've never understood people who let someone else tell them how they should have something cooked if it's not the way they like it. Want it raw in the middle? Fine. Want it charred beyond all recognition? Dandy. Want to flip it every five seconds like some kind of weirdo so it never browns? Go for it. Hell, I've done that. But I've gotten better. The whole point is to enjoy it and if you don't like it medium-rare, then you shouldn't have to have it that way. Dammit.
I happen to like my burgers well done, especially since I just don't trust ground beef from the supermarket. Not after working in one anyway. Now what I do when I buy hamburger is I form up some patties and freeze them. I usually mix some seasonings into the patties before I freeze them. Sometimes some A-1, sometimes garlic, whatever. It's not rocket science. I freeze them in pairs with a piece of parchment paper between them so they come apart easily. This way I can have burgers whenever I like without having to go to the store or deal with those sketchy prepacked pattys. So, heat up some kind of fat in a skillet. You can use anything really, butter, olive oil, those weird spreads that aren't quite margarine and taste almost like butter but not quite, whatever you've got. But since I have bacon grease I will use that, bacon grease is the best. I don't bother to defrost them usually, since I am cooking them well done and neither my girlfriend or I are really picky about it. But if texture is a concern of yours you should defrost frozen burgers. Toss the burgers into your heated skillet. Move them around just a little at first to make sure the grease is under them. But to get a nice crust you don't want to move them around at all after that. How hot you want the skillet and when you flip them depends on how thick they are. If they are really thin you want to have it pretty hot and you will flip them pretty quickly. If they are thick then you want it on medium, medium-high and let them sit for a while. This is something that takes a little trial and error to get just right. I know, practice sucks. But at least with this there is a burger at the end of it, even if it isn't perfect at first. Notice the one on the right isn't browned in the middle? That's because when it froze it was a little concave, so when I tossed it onto the skillet only the edges were touching. If this bothers you that is another reason to defrost thoroughly.
And of course, toppings are key. My girlfriend likes it simple, smothered with bbq sauce and tossed under the broiler to caramelize. I accidentally pulled off a big chunk of basil while trying to prune some dead leaves, so I am having some mayo, fresh basil and cracked black pepper on a toasted bun. Very la-dee-da. When I put fresh basil on a burger again (and I will, it was really good) I will put on at least twice as much as that. Just an fyi.
Here is the easiest method for cooking fresh corn on the cob I have ever found. Take a pot. Fill it with cold water. Add corn. Bring it to a boil. When it reaches a boil, the corn is cooked. That's it.Now I suggest slathering it with sweet, nutritious butter, salt and pepper and going at it like a demented vegetable eating typewriter/rabbit hybrid, bred in the blackest pits of a secret government building to come out at night and devour corn, only stoppable by rogue military agents who... sorry, I've been watching X-Files again. You can eat it however you like.

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