Saturday, May 06, 2006

Burgers and Baked Onion Rings

Sometimes you have such high hopes for a meal. You go to the store, carefully select your ingredients, get home, set up your mise en place, and cook.

And then, when everything is in front of you, and you take your first bite – well sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s not, and some it’s OK.

This is OK. We’re full and sated but not jumping through the roof with joy.

With the burgers, I didn’t make the patties thin enough so between that and the very high flame, they didn't cook evenly.

I’d like to try this recipe again – the flavor was good, but as they were well done, I’m sure they could be better. (They remained moist.) I always have trouble grilling meat. I need to get an instant read thermometer.


I love onion rings. FRIED onion rings.

For what they are, they’re good. But baked onion rings will never be mistaken for the real thing. I guess it isn't fair to compare them to fried -- they're not in the same league. (Baked = minors. Fried = majors.)

Having said that, the ones Michael Chu at Cooking for Engineers made look a lot better than mine, so perhaps something went awry for me.

I'm not going to bother with these again. For the amount of effort, the results aren't worth it.

Both recipes come from Cook's Country magazine.

The Ultimate Burger

8 strips bacon
1 to 2 slices of white bread, crusts removed & discarded, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup milk
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef (85 to 90-percent lean)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
Veggie oil for grill rack

Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towels. Save bacon for another purpose. (Bacon bits for salad? Topping your burger for extra burger goodness?) Spoon 3 Tbsp. bacon fat into heatproof bowl in refrigerator until ready to use.

Place bread in small bowl and add milk, allowing mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Using a fork, mash bread and milk until if forms a smooth paste.

Break up beef into small pieces in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add garlic, bread paste, and bacon fat. Lightly knead together so that ingredients are well incorporated and mixture forms cohesive mass. Divide meat into 4 equal parts. Using hands, toss each portion of meat back and forth to form a loose ball, then gently flatten into ¾-inch patties.

Oil grate and grill burgers over very hot fire, without pressing down on them, until well-seared on both sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Serves 4

Oven-Fried Onion Rings

30 saltine crackers
4 handfuls kettle-cooked chips
2 med. Yellow or Vidalia onions cut into 1/2-inch wide rings
¼ c. flour
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ c. flour
2 Tbsp. veggie oil

In a food processor, process saltines and potato chips to the size of your choosing (play it safe and don’t go to big or small).

Combine the buttermilk with 1/4 cup flour, cayenne pepper, egg, salt, and pepper to form batter.

Preheat oven to 450-degrees F. Take each onion ring and drop it into the flour, tapping off the excess. Then drop the ring into the buttermilk batter. Lift the ring out of the buttermilk (you use a chopstick or kebab skewer) and place it into the saltine-chip mixture. Spoon the coating around the ring until it's well coated and then lift it (using another chopstick or skewer) to a plate. Repeat until all the rings are gone or you get bored with the process, which ever comes first.

Pour oil onto baking sheet and place in the oven for 8 or 9 minutes. Carefully pull out the pan - it should be lightly smoking - and tilt it so the surface is evenly coated with oil. Placed onion rings onto the pan, making sure none are touching, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Pull out the pan, flip all the rings over and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes. When finished, both sides should be golden brown.

Burger: B (With better grilling techniques, A range)
Baked Onion Rings: B- (ketchup helps...)

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1 comment:

Katie said...

I, too, love FRIED onion rings. The recipe you used looks very familiar to Martha Stewart's; however, you may want to try hers as she suggests using cornflake crumbs (vice the Saltine crackers...). The cornflakes add a nice sweetness to a sweet onion. The only change to Martha's recipe I recommend is to use a bit more oil to avoid scorching the base to of the onion rings.


Here's to "healthy" unhealthy food!