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Heaven on a Bun

Monday was a balmy 60 something degrees. I spent the entire afternoon outside, going for a run and then walking another hour and a half. Knowing what was coming later in the week, I wasn’t going to waste the sunshine and warm air. As I was walking, I was getting really hungry. I couldn’t get the thought of a juicy burger with melting cheese oozing from between the layers of a potato bun. Later when I stopped at the store to get what I needed, I did a quick search of the gourmet cheeses. I rarely go for the mundane American or plain old cheddar. I found a morel mushroom and leek jack cheese. Oh yeah! There is a small shop ( The Savory Gourmet )that sells cheeses and other snacky kind of foods in Lititz, PA that used to have a mushroom cheese (first introduced to us at Waltz Vineyards-excellent wines.  My favorite is their Fusion).  Eating that cheese was like eating a choice cut of beef. Awesome with red wine. This cheese that I found in the grocery store was pretty close.

When I got home, I mixed into 1 and a half pounds of chuck (gotta have chuck, 80/20-need that fat to keep the flavor and juices and keep the burgers from drying out) powdered garlic, minced onion, a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce and a big splash of red wine vinegar or red wine. I formed 5 relatively equal patties, giving them a little indention in the center (see Simple Backyard Burgers for more on burgers). The patties went on the grill with a hot fire, coals evenly spread out. I had very few flare-ups. Not sure why, but that is a good thing. Near the end of cooking time, I moved the burgers to the sides, no longer over the coals. Slices of cheese were added, the lid went on for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and voila! Juicy, cheesey heaven on a bun! The burgers were perfect-just a bit of pink in the middle and the mushroom and leek cheese was an excellent complement to the touch of Worcestershire and red wine vinegar.

Sorry I don’t have pictures-just didn’t get them this time around.

Until next time, Grill Baby, Grill!


Meatball Burgers


How about spaghetti and meatballs without the spaghetti?  That is exactly what you will have with these burgers.  You get all but the pasta!  The buns are even toasted with garlic butter.  Generous slices of mozzarella cheese, thick, seasoned sauce and hefty, juicy burgers….yummy!

To 2 pounds of hamburger mix in well:

Dried Oregano, 1 1/4 tsp

Dried Basil, 1 tsp

Minced Onion, 2 tsp

Garlic Powder, 1/4-1/2 tsp

Parsley Flakes, 1 tbsp

Form 6-8 patties.  I did 6 patties this time around (see my blog post on Simple Backyard Burgers for tips on forming hamburger patties).  Refrigerate until about 20 minutes to a half hour before grilling.

Prepare the grill (see How to/Tips).  The burgers will be initially grilled directly over high heat, then moved to the side away from the coals to heat the sauce and melt the cheese. 






While waiting for the grill to be ready, you can start on the buns and slice the mozzarella (you can use shredded if you want, but slices work best and look better!).  For the garlic butter buns, blend 1/4 tsp of garlic powder to 1/4 cup of softened butter.  Softened butter is better than melted butter for this.  The buns will be toasted directly over the cooling coals on the grill, so you don’t want the garlic butter to soak completely into the bun too soon.

When the grill is ready, put on the burgers!  After about 8-10 minutes, flip the burgers and grill for another 3-5, until the bottoms are browned.  Move them to the side, away from the coals and add about 2 tbsp of pizza sauce.  I highly recommend using pizza sauce.  It is thicker and will stay on the burger better than any other kind of sauce.  I used a sauce that comes in a squeeze bottle for ease of operation. 

Top with slices of mozzarella (see photo above).  Cover the grill, leaving it on for about 5-7  minutes.  That should be enough time to turn the slices of cheese into an ooey, gooey, stringy mess!  

Place the buns, buttered side down, directly over the coals.  The coals by now should be low to medium heat.  Even so, you really need to watch-I burned the first couple of buns!  A minute or so is about all that is needed, but be vigilant! 

Once the buns are nicely toasted, remove, top with a burger and place the bun top over the burger.  We had salads and fries with our burgers.  If I had planned better, a Caprese Salad would have been a perfect side with these! 







Enjoy!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Simple Backyard Burgers

Burgers are your typical backyard bbq perennial go-to meat. That doesn’t mean the burgers have to be typical. And mine are never anything but tasty and juicy.  This recipe is as simple as the title says.  You can leave out any herb or seasoning and they will still be great tasting burgers.  The key is how you cook them on the grill.

There are a few important things to remember when cooking just about any meat over (or in) any heating source.  The first is to NEVER press or spear the meat!  Doing so releases all of the juices and leaves you with a dry piece of rubber or brick that will have to be either choked down with copious amounts of a beverage or smothered in a sauce.  Now, smothering in a sauce isn’t always a bad thing, but it is my belief that one should be able to enjoy and savor a piece of meat without having to add a sauce.  If it’s not good enough to stand alone, then it’s not good enough.  The second thing to remember is to turn the meat over only once through the cooking time.  Again, this will help retain the natural juices.  You can turn the meat without flipping it in order to get the grill marks pretty (I could care less-I’m just going to eat it!) if you are so inclined, but do so without turning over.  The last thing I want all of you to remember is to make sure you let the meat sit out for a little while before putting it on the grill.  Let it come to (or at least close to) room temperature.  This allows for less cooking time, thereby retaining more of those juices and it lets the meat relax.  Just like us, when a piece of meat is cold, it tenses and shrinks up and needs a little time to relax.  A gradual warm-up is better than the shock of sudden heat.

Recipe (All measurements are approximate)

To about 2 pounds of ground beef (I use 70% lean-lots of natural flavor and keeps burgers juicy):

1 tbsp dry minced onion

1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic

1 tsp dill weed or about 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

2 tsp ground mustard

2 tsp paprika

1/8-1/4 tsp white pepper

2 tsp coriander

1-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

cheese slices (any type goes well with this recipe)

These may be prepared well ahead of time.  If preparing more than a 1/2 hour before putting on the grill, refrigerate.  I have prepared the burgers when I bring the ground beef home and put them in the freezer, taking out the night before to thaw in the fridge.  Other times, I’ve prepared them after starting the fire and either way is just fine. 

Mix all ingredients except cheese in a bowl.  Mix well. 

 Form into 4-5 ounce patties. 

I usually get 7 patties. 

A trick I learned from Rachael Ray:  put an indention in the center of the burger patty-the burgers will cook evenly.  Works very well. 

To grill:  start charcoal fire for direct cooking, using approximately 30-40 coals.  Once spread, this will be enough to provide heat extending a little way beyond the surface area you will need for the burgers. 

You will be cooking the burgers over direct, high heat (8-10″ above coals, hold hand-about 2-4 seconds should be all you can stand).

After 5 minutes or so, burger should start to look like this.  See the juices collecting in the indention.  You know these are going to be good!  Remember, you are only turning over once.  No matter how tempting it may be to turn over at this point, don’t do it! 

Flare ups will occur with a higher fat content burger.  Keep your trusty squirt bottle on hand to put them out (unless you like flame broiled-I don’t.  You will dry out your burger).

Flip burgers over when edges are brown, about 8-10  minutes into cooking time.  When using a spatula to flip food over on a grill, follow the lines of the grill.  If you flip the food against the grill lines, you risk sending your food down into the coals.  That would make me sad.  I hate seeing food turn into burnt up shrivels of coals.  And it will smell awful.

Wait another couple of minutes or so, juices again will come to the surface.  Move all burgers to edges of grill, away from direct heat.  Then you will add your slices of cheese.  This time around, I used some crumbled feta (garlic and herb) and american cheeses.  Other times I have used apple wood smoked cheddar and cheddar jack.  Any cheese will do with this simple combo of beef and seasonings.    Once the cheese is on the burgers, place the lid over the grill, leaving the vent on top open.

Wait 3-4 minutes to let the cheese absorb some smoke and get nice and gooey. 






Remove from grill.  Add any other toppings you choose and enjoy!

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!