My husband is a builder and often takes on smaller projects on the weekends. I have found, as only an observer all these years, that these side jobs are frequently more trouble then they are worth. Sometimes homeowners add things on and sometimes unforeseen troubles arise (termites, rot, previous (or old) work that’s not up to code), but the result is his entire weekend gets sucked up.
Yesterday was one of these kinds of days. According to him, this project has been a nightmare and, while he was hoping to finish in a few hours, he didn’t make it home until almost 7:00. So I decided it was a gourmet burger kind of night. My husband loves chili cheese fries, so I made burgers and chili cheese fries. I made a pot of chili so that we’d have dinner for tomorrow ready to go, then I just made a quick cheese sauce. I threw a picture in below, just to tempt your taste buds!
Every year we buy half a cow from a local farmer. I generally end up with several packages of stew meat and these giant sirloin steaks with a bone in the middle. They look something like this:
I often use these for stir fry, chili, or tacos, but sometimes I grind them and make fresh hamburger. I don’t have a meat grinder, but I have found my Cuisinart food processor does the trick. The key to making a good hamburger blend has to do with fat content. I use the stew meat because those pieces (usually from the chuck) are pretty well marbled and I use the sirloin because it’s lean and has a good “meaty” flavor. I basically just cut all the meat into one-inch pieces and throw a handful at a time into my food processor. I pulse a few times until it’s ground and, voila, fresh ground burger. I will add, that a meat grinder would make for a less-dense grind and, therefore, a more tender burger, but I make up for this I keeping by burgers on the medium side when cooking.
Why grind your own meat?
The thing about store-bought hamburger is that it is taken from pretty much any part of the cow. According to Cargill, it’s predominately made up of four components: muscle tissue, fat, collagen, and elastin. As a cow is butchered and the scraps are ground, there is more chance of contamination. Commercial packing houses wash the meat with an ammonia solution (which you’ve heard about if you’ve heard or read any of the information about pink slime) to “sanitize” the raw beef.
The reason we can eat steaks rare but not burgers is because of the lack of exposure to contamination. The grinding and the mixing of meat types and sources, makes hamburger a higher risk for contamination. If you grind your own, you can minimize the exposure and cook those juicy medium burgers we all know and love. Additionally, it might be in my head, but I really think a freshly ground burger tastes better. It tastes more like a steak burger. It has a bit more chew to it and a meatier flavor.
So you don’t have to grind your own meat to make these burgers, I just wanted to share how easy it is to do. Here are the burgers I made with our freshly ground burger.
Mushroom, Onion, and Feta Burgers (with a splash of Balsamic!)
- 1 lb ground beef
- salt and pepper to taste (I used McCormick’s Grill Seasoning)
- Hamburger buns of your choice (I like mine toasted)
Mushroom Onion Topping
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme (fresh would be even better!)
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas, you can use whatever you choose)
- splash white wine (or red, or cooking sherry, or even brandy if that’s whatcha got!)
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- Feta cheese
- A splash of balsamic vinegar
- To prepare the topping, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the sliced onion and saute until tender (about 5-7 minutes)
- Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant (about a minute or two). Keep an eye on it, garlic burns quickly.
- Add the mushrooms along with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender.
- 5. Add a splash of white wine and the broth to deglaze the pan. Raise the heat a bit and cook until liquid is reduced (about 5 more minutes)
- 6. Cook the burgers as you normally would. I liberally season both sides, then throw them on a hot cast iron skillet with some melted butter. When the burgers are medium, pull them off and let them rest.
To plate, top burger with mushroom and onion mixture, then a liberal sprinkling of feta cheese and a splash of Balsamic vinegar.
Chili Cheese Fries!