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July 30, 2014 By:
Linda Morel, JE Feature
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Now that summer is in full swing, it’s high time to rustle up burgers to slide onto sizzling hot grills. After all, what would a barbecue be without all-American burgers and buns?

However, the concept of burgers has changed in recent decades. Once upon a time, the all-beef hamburger was the only option available. That was before people worried about calories and cholesterol.

As they became more health conscious, people gravitated to turkey burgers. But it didn't take long before they figured out that a turkey burger is dry — especially when compared to the juiciness of the beef version, which derive its advantage from a higher fat content.  

Lately, the scope of burgers has expanded further to appeal to vegetarians and vegans. Some of these fiber-based newcomers are so chunky and brimming with flavor that even ardent carnivores can derive some modicum of satisfaction from a bite.

Black Bean Chili Burgers
(Dairy or Pareve)

    1    small potato or 1⁄2 of a large potato
    3    Tbsps. corn or vegetable oil, or more, if needed
    1    small onion, diced fine
    2    cloves of garlic, minced
    1⁄2    red pepper, diced fine
    2    mushrooms, diced fine
        kosher salt to taste
    1⁄4    tsp. chili powder
    1⁄4    tsp. oregano
    1⁄2    tsp. ground cumin
    1    can (15 oz.) black beans, drained
    1⁄8    cup breadcrumbs
        nonstick vegetable spray
        slices of cheddar cheese (optional)
        hamburger rolls

Peel the potato and cut it into one-inch chunks. Boil it until soft when pierced with a fork but not falling apart. Drain the potato, cool to room temperature, and reserve.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet on a medium flame. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the pepper and mushrooms. Sprinkle in the salt, chili, oregano and cumin and mix well to combine. Stir occasionally.

When the vegetables start to wilt, reduce the flame to low and add the beans. Continue to stir occasionally.

Dice the cooled potato. When the vegetables are softened, add the potato to the pot. Stir and mash the potato into the vegetable and bean mixture. Cool to room temperature.

Mix in the breadcrumbs until evenly distributed. Using your hands, form the mixture into patties.

Preheat the barbecue grill. Coat the vegetable insert with nonstick spray before placing on the grill. Arrange the burgers inside. Place the insert on the barbecue. Grill until the bottom sides turn brown and flip over until the other sides brown.

Place a slice of cheddar on burgers, if using. Close lid of barbecue and continue grilling until cheese melts. Serve immediately in hamburger rolls.

Note: Burgers can be prepared in a frying pan coated with additional oil.

Makes about 6 burgers.

Portobello Burgers
(Dairy)

     4  portobello mushrooms
    4 Tbsps. olive oil, or more, if needed
        kosher salt to taste
    4-8 slices of mozzarella cheese
        ciabatta rolls, cut in half

Preheat the grill.
Wipe mushrooms with paper towels to remove any dirt.
Remove the stems by using your fingers to gently rock the stems back and forth until they get released from the mushroom cap. Reserve for another use.
Place the mushroom caps in a flat-bottom bowl or a platter with a deep rim. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Using a barbecue spatula, place the mushroom caps top side down on the edge of the grill, away from the flame. Cover the grill and open only to turn mushrooms every 5 minutes or so. Drizzle on more oil, if needed, so mushrooms don't become dry. Grill for 20 to 30 minutes, until mushrooms are softened.
Turn the mushroom caps top side down on the grill and fill their cavities with slices of mozzarella. Cover the grill. Check every 2 minutes, until the cheese melts.
With a barbecue spatula, remove mushrooms from the grill. Place on ciabatta rolls and serve immediately.
Makes 4 portobello burgers.

Turkey Burgers Deluxe
(Meat)

   1 ripe avocado
   1 lb. ground turkey
        kosher salt to taste
   1⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
    1 large red onion, cut into
   1⁄8-to 1⁄4-inch slices
        hamburger rolls

Preheat the grill.

Cut the avocado in half. Slice it into 8 wedges, discarding the pit and peel. Cover slices with plastic wrap and reserve.

Place the turkey in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder and mix until well combined. Form into 4 turkey patties. Pat together well so burgers stay together on the grill. Place raw turkey burgers on a plate. With your thumb, make a small well in the center of the burgers so they do not dome up during grilling. Wash hands well.

With a barbecue spatula, place the turkey burgers on the grill.

Place the slices of red onion on one side of the barbecue, being careful not to separate them into rings. Turn every 3 minutes, rotating slices between the center and edge of the barbecue. Grill until cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the burgers on the other side of the grill. When the bottoms are well seared, after about 5 minutes, turn them over and sear the top side. During grilling, rotate burgers between the center and edge of the grill.

Continue grilling tops and bottoms for a total of 12 to 15 minutes, or until burgers are well done in the center.

To test for doneness, gently pierce burgers with a sharp knife in the center. If juices run clear, rather than pink, the burgers are ready. Do not eat rare turkey burgers.

Move burgers to hamburger rolls. Top with avocado slices and the grilled red onion. The onion may break into slices at this point. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 turkey burgers.

Beef Burgers With Caramelized Onions
(Meat)

    2 large onions
    2 Tbsps. olive oil
        salt to taste
    1 lb. ground beef
    1⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
        hamburger rolls

Peel and slice the onions as thin as possible, about 1⁄8-inch thick. With your fingers, break each slice into rings. Don’t worry if some of them break.

In a large skillet, heat oil on a medium flame. Slide the onion rings into the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Let bottom layer of onion rings brown slightly before turning the onions. Continue frying and turning onions as they brown. Watch carefully to make sure they don't burn. Turn down flame, if necessary. Fry until onions are browned and caramelized all over, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from flame and reserve.

Place ground beef in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder and mix until well combined. Form into 4 beef patties. Pat together well so burgers stay together on the grill. Place raw beef burgers on a plate.

With your thumb, make a small well in the center of the burgers so they do not dome up during grilling. Wash hands well.

Place the beef burgers on the grill. When the bottoms of the burgers are well-seared, after about 5 minutes, turn them over and sear the top side. During grilling, rotate burgers between the center and edge of the grill.

Continue grilling tops and bottoms for a total of 10 to 15 minutes, depending on whether you want them rare, medium, or well done.

To test for doneness, pierce burgers with a thin sharp knife into the center, taking a peek at the insides. Red inside is rare and pink is medium. If juices run clear, rather than pink, the burgers are well done.

As burgers reach desired doneness, heat the onions on a low flame to warm.

Move burgers to hamburger rolls. Smother with caramelized onions. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 beef burgers.

Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected].

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