My sister from Anchorage came to visit and brought her brand new little 2 month old baby along for the ride. When driving from O'Hare out to the western suburbs my sister says, "ok little Helen, this is Chicago. It's very flat and grey and ugly here." To which I responded, "yeah but it's MARCH! That's hardly fair!" And I think I'm right.
March is officially the worst month in Chicago. It's drizzly and cold and dark still and it doesn't feel like it will ever heat up. So, I decided I would practice a bit of denial. Sometimes I think denial is a very productive cognitive function. Last Friday night, I was craving a burger. Our cow arrived some weeks ago and Damon and I have been dying for a good old fashioned, home grilled beef burger. We already decided that this summer, all of our allotted beef should go towards hamburger experimentation, so why not begin in March? I shut my eyes really hard and pretended it was May. Bon appetit had this killer burger on the front cover a few months back. The roll was nice a nice glazed crusty brown, the burger was thick and juicy and spicy looking, lettuce was crisp and vivid green and the tomato was a nice deep straight-off-the-vines red. It's the kind of burger you can whisper over, "my precious" and not feel like you're overstating the facts.
To the task. Damon is officially on grill duty (I know when to acquiesce) and I was on toppings and buns duty. I pulled this recipe out of my google cookbook only because I like King Arthur Flour. Maybe it's just good marketing but I like companies that are 100% employee owned. And you know what? They turned out perfectly. We ate two and froze the rest so I'll let you know how they fare once it is actually grilling season.
Our meat was already 90% lean when the recipe (and most burgers) called for 80-85% lean so we mixed in a bit of compound butter I had from some steak the week before. May I highly highly recommend it for your next at home burger. The meat just melted in my mouth. Plus the DIY chipotle ketchup was a kicky companion to spice up your average burger and we have about a half cup left over for the next round. Here's my version of the recipe, but cut down just for two people.
1 red onion, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds
pinch of kosher salt, pinch of pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 c ketchup
1 1/2 t chopped chipotle chilies (from canned chipotle chilis in adobo) plus 2 T adobo sauce from the can
4 t balsamic vinegar (I used much more than the recipe recommended (2 t) but I love the stuff)
1 lb 90% lean ground beef, at room temperature
2- 1/2 inch slices of Wisconsin white cheddar cheese
1 T compound butter, or any butter mixed with fresh herbs, salt, pepper and garlic
4 tomato slices
3/4 c spinach leaves
Prepare your barbecue (medium high heat). Lay onion rounds out on a cookie sheet, still intact and brush with olive oil, sprinkle with s&p. Carefully transfer onions to the grill, sear for 3 minutes a side, or until you have nice grill marks. Move to cooler part of the grill and cook until soft. Remove and toss with balsamic vinegar. Cover and set aside.
Mix ketchup, chillis, adobo and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and add more vinegar, if desired. Cover and chill.
Form three patties, about 1/2 inch thick and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook burgers until bottoms darken and juices rise to the surface, about 3 minutes and turn. Another 3 minutes and you're at medium rare. Top with cheese, close the lid to let that sucka melt and assemble burger. You know what to do.