Hmmm. Just 2 weeks ago, I was sitting in this exact same spot, also writing up a recipe for you guys… and almost falling flat on my face with a heatstroke from the 40°C+ outside. I focused on the snowstorm scenario I described to you guys during the Energizer Gazpacho post in an attempt to keep a cool head at least and now… our region is sitting below Siberia on the temperature scale at a balmy 23-25°C.
Hm! I suppose a couple of centuries back, I might have found myself experiencing a completely different kind of heat around my ankles after stating that fact in public, but these days, the new – at least totally new and unheard of during this time of the year – heat source is actually located in my kitchen! Usually this is the perfect time of the year to spend the evenings reclining in the great outdoors, preferably in the leafy shade under a convenient tree in the general vicinity of a BBQ manned by a capable pitmaster, with something cold in one and something deliciously hot in the other hand and enjoying the evening breeze for dessert. Of course, the raging burger-mood banging on our door right on time didn’t care about the appropriate weather having run off elsewhere for the time being, so all I could do last weekend was to fire up the griddle and allow Burger Season in for a quick visit at the dinner table – before shutting it out again to enjoy what’s left of our little reprieve from insanely high temperatures!
Both the Asparagus and the Relish are convenient members of the best-made-in-advance club, so feel free to prep them the evening/morning before the gig so they’re out of your hair while you’re playing with fire~
Oh and if you’ve got vegetarians at your table, my Veggie Burger Patties work deliciously well in this kind of setup as well – just skip the cumin, it doesn’t really work with the strawberries, at least on my palate… And here we go, Burger dinner for 2:
The Marinated Asparagus Salad
1 Tbsp Herby Dijon Mustard
200g White Asparagus, peeled and woody bits removed
200g Green Asparagus, woody Bits removed
100g Wild Garlic or Arugula Leaves
1 Shallot, finely diced
1 Lime, Zest and Juice
1 Tbsp Mild Olive Oil
1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
Freshly cracked Black Pepper and Herbed Sea Salt to taste
Opt: 2 Tbsp Fresh Tarragon Leaves, finely chopped
1) Shave the asparagus spears into thin ribbons with a veggie peeler.
2) Spread them out in a piping hot griddle and allow them to kiss the heat for about 30 sec to 1 min until they’re nicely griddle-marked on both sides.
3) Add the oil, salt, shallot cubes, a dash of salt and pepper, leaves and optional tarragon as well as the lime zest and juice to a bowl large enough to hold all of the asparagus ribbons and whisk the lot until everything is well combined.
4) Transfer the asparagus ribbons into the bowl as they come out of the pan, give them a gentle stir and allow them to cool off and marinade overnight or at least for 1 hour before the clock rings Burger’o’Clock.
5) Just before working on the burgers themselves, retrieve your bowl and shake off any excess marinade and juices that might have gathered in the bowl and place them in yet another bowl right along with the mustard and, if necessary, another pinch each of salt and pepper. Gently toss the ribbons to gloss them over with the mustard and set the bowl aside in a cool spot somewhere close by– you’ll need them soon!
The Strawberry Relish
1 Mild yet aromatic Red Chilli, very finely chopped – I always use the poblanos that are only available over here during this season for this relish. They go deliciously well with the intense, late strawberries currently flooding the Farmer’s Market
125g Grilled Zucchini, finely diced – if you don’t have access to High-Quality ready-grilled zucchini, like from an Italian antipasti vendor on your local Farmer’s Market, simply slice a zucchini lengthwise into thin ribbons, brush them with your fav Extra Virgin Olive Oil, dust them with a dash each of salt, pepper and dried italian herbs and griddle them up right after the asparagus ribbons left the griddle for their R&R.
250g Fresh Strawberries, carefully cleaned, stemmed and quartered or thinly sliced (depending on their size)
3-4 Tbsp Cornichons, finely diced – I tried using these just for giggles once and it stuck… they’re a surprisingly delicious match for strawberries!
1 Ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and diced to roughly match the size of your strawberry-/zucchini-/ cornichon-dice
1 Lime, Zest and Juice
1 Tsp Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Honey
1 small Red Onion or 2 Spring Onions, very finely chopped
1 Small Bunch/~15g Coriander, Leaves picked
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and your Favorite Steak Pepper Blend to taste
Oh how I love this kind of “recipe”~ (personal notes: bowl, stir, chill, stack)
1) Place all of the ingredients, sans the steak pepper, in a bowl.
2) Gently fold the ingredients in on themselves until everything is well combined.
3) Seal the bowl with a matching lid or clingfilm and place it in the fridge to chill overnight or at least 1 hour.
4) Season the lot with the steak pepper blend just before stacking up the burgers! Speaking of the guest of honor…
400g High-Quality Lean Beef Mince, freshly minced
A very generous Pinch each of Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp Fresh Tarragon Leaves, very finely chopped
½ Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1) Lightly toast the seeds in a dry pan until they start to release their essential oils. Allow them to cool off for a couple of blinks, then transfer them into a pestle & mortar set and grind them up with a pinch of coarse sea salt.
2) Spread out a double layer of clingfilm on your work surface. Make sure the blanket’s long and wide enough to accommodate your pile of mince.
3) Arrange the mince strands lengthwise, stacking them to a log with a diameter matching the diameter of your buns.
4) Generously dust the layers of mince strands with sea salt, tarragon and the gound up mustard seeds as you go to help the strands bind together into a well seasoned proto-pattie while retaining their individual structure.
5) Generally – as for the length of the log – guesstimate about 2-3cm per deliciously juicy patty you will be cutting off of the log in the end – keep in mind the mince will be compressed a bit, in length as well as in diameter. If you’re only making 2 like today, this translates into rolling up a “log” about half as long as wide. A bit fiddly to stack up… or all the more reason to make a few sets of “seconds”~!
6) Gently press down the strands just a bit to pop out larger air pockets and tuck them in together a bit tighter.
7) Grab the edges of your clingfilm blanket and roll up the log neat and tidy, still aiming for the length and diameter you need to fit your buns.
8) Twist the ends of the clingfilm as you go to firmly seal in the meat. Prick this layer of clingfilm with a sharp knife to release the air being pressed out from between the strands, then roll the log into a second layer of clingfilm.
9) Tie up the twisted ends of the clingfilm if necessary and place the log in the fridge to for about 2-3 hours to set.
10) Place your trusty griddle on high heat and let it sit there for about 5 mins until it’s screaming hot.
11) As the pan is heating up, pick up a very sharp knife and slice your meat log, clingfilm layers and all, into individual patties. Remove the wrap and gently pat the disks into a burger pattie shape – take special care of the edges where the strands standing at attention might crumble away from the rest of the gang. Be careful though, don’t squish the meat together and try to keep the grain in line for a maximum succulent-juicy-crumbly-deliciousness effect upon contact with your teeth.
12) Once the griddle is sizzling hot, brush it with just a little bit of oil just before laying in the patties. As usual, don’t overcrowd the pan in order to keep the temperature high.
13) Thumbprint the center of your patties to about 1/4 of the way through to keep the patties from puffing up in the heat.
14) On the first round in the heat, use the back of a spatula to very gently press down on the patties to keep their surface flat and even. Ditch the spatula (at least for this purpose) after the first 30 seconds on each side.
15) Flip the burgers every 30 seconds in order to get a nice and even crust on them.
16) Assuming your patty is about 2cm thick and you’re aiming for a medium-rare result, you should reach the golden 52°C core temperature after around 2-3 minutes. As usual keep in mind that residual heat inside the meat will keep the cooking process going a while longer.
17) Transfer the patties onto a warm plate as they come out of the fire and quickly cover them with a sheet of aluminum foil to keep them warm and juicy while wrapping up the rest of the deal.
Assembling the Burgers
2 Delicious Burger Buns
The Marinated Asparagus – don’t forget the mustard-stage!
The Strawberry Relish – don’t forget the steak pepper-stage!
Opt: 2 Eggs, just because~! – fry them sunny-side up to dot the I on the meat
1) Pop the buns, cutting surfaces down, into the griddle as soon as the patties are out for a quick toast.
2) Distribute the asparagus ribbons on the bun bottoms first.
3) Nestle the patties on top of them.
4) Carefully spoon the relish on top of the patties.
5) If you’re a bit like me in that regard… “Nail” everything into place with a sunny-side-up~!
5 ½) If not, “Nail” everything into place with the bun tops~
6) Unhinge yaws and…