Monday, May 27, 2013

ChezCindy: The Cabernet Burger

A few years ago, my husband and I were attending a wedding reception for the daughter of our dear friends.  We were seated at a banquet table among others whom we did not know.  Casual table- talk turned to food, what else.  One of the couples who were also friends of our friends, began sharing an experience of the most wonderful burger the mother of the bride had made for them.  She was describing the burger, trying to remember the toppings, ingredients, etc.  I quickly realized she was describing my burger recipe that I had just taught to our mutual friend.  It was the first time one of my recipes had made its way out and was being told back to me via third party.  My reaction was an odd mixed feeling of pride and possessiveness.  That was my recipe, but nobody knew it.  Kind of like when a parent shouts out at a sporting event, "That's my kid!".  It was a good feeling. 

This truly is the best burger.  Yes, many make this claim.  Once you try this recipe, you will know.  A red wine reduction sauce is mixed into the ground beef, keeping it moist; topped with caramelized onions and white cheddar for a great balance of flavor.  The bun is toasted with rosemary compound butter.  Fresh sliced tomatoes are all this burger needs to make it complete. 

Making this burger involves many steps and much time.  First is making the caramelized onions.  These are wonderful to have on hand at all times.  I make a large batch and freeze in small containers for quick use.  Next is making the cabernet and shallot reduction sauce.  This too freezes well in small containers when the craving comes for the Cab Burger.  Well worth the effort.   

The Chez Cindy Cab Burgers
1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Gruyere cheese or white cheddar cheese, grated 4 ounces

4 soft hamburger buns, potato or brioche
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
pinch of kosher salt

Caramelized onions
Sliced tomatoes

Before you begin grilling the burgers, have all your ingredients made ahead and ready to use.  The red wine reduction will need about 20 minutes to cook down.  The caramelized onions will need between 45-60 minutes.  Grate the cheese; slice the tomatoes.  Prepare the rosemary butter.    

Begin by making the red wine reduction:  Add the full bottle of wine to a large, deep saucepan.  Add in the chopped shallots.  Boil over high heat until the wine is reduced to roughly 1 cup.  Remove from heat, add in the butter and brown sugar.  Swirl to combine.  Set aside to cool. 

Make the caramelized onions (recipe below)

Make the rosemary butter:  Combine the softened butter with the finely minced fresh rosemary and pinch of kosher salt.  Set aside.

Prepare the burgers:  Place the ground chuck into a large bowl.  Add 4 tablespoons of the red wine shallot sauce; stir to combine.  Shape into 4 burgers, each weighing 6 ounces.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat.  Place the burgers onto the grill, basting each with a teaspoon of the red wine reduction sauce.  (The left-over red wine reduction sauce can be frozen for future use.)  Grill the burgers for about 4 minutes on the first side.  Once you flip to side 2, top each burger with roughly 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions and cover with grated cheese.  Close the lid of the grill to continue cooking and melting the cheese, about another 3 minutes.  This should bring the burgers to about medium doneness.  Remove the burgers to a tray, allowing to rest for a few minutes. 

Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of rosemary butter onto each bun.  Toast on the grill until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside. 

Place a prepared burger onto each toasted bottom bun.  Top each burger with sliced tomatoes, or your favorite toppings.  Cover with the top bun and enjoy!

Caramelized Onions
2 large sweet onions
1 large red onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine

Thinly slice the onions to equal about 4 cups. Working with a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and oil.  Once the butter is melted, swirl to combine.  Add the sliced onions and garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat the onions with the butter oil mixture.  After about 10 minutes on medium heat, turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat.  Deglaze the pan by carefully adding in the white wine.  Stir to combine, bringing up any bits of browning from the bottom of the pan.   

Turn the heat back on to medium-low.  Continue cooking until the onions are golden brown and have collapsed into soft strands, roughly 20 minutes.  Use right away or once cool, refrigerate for future use.   These onions are fantastic on burgers or chicken sandwiches.  Stir in to scrambled eggs or add to a quiche or omelet.  They freeze well and are quick to thaw. 

For even greater perfection, try grinding your own beef when making this burger.  See my earlier post to learn how to do this.  Fresh ground burgers


*Recipe inspired by James McNair, author of James McNair's Grill Cookbook and James McNair's Burgers

Saturday, May 11, 2013

ChezCindy: Salmon Rillettes Appetizer

My latest obsession is with smoked salmon.  So much that I am researching how to make it at home.  It all started in early April on my weekend trip to New York City.  We went to breakfast at a beautiful restaurant, mostly seeking out a stunning view of Central Park.  At the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is a wonderful restaurant, Asiate.  Go for the views, stay for the food.  A classic New York breakfast is a toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, mostly ordered from a deli.  I ordered this for my breakfast from this fancy restaurant and now have a new standard for smoked salmon.  Wow was it good.  I had that same breakfast for the next 3 days.  Their smoked salmon had a sweet-soy smokey flavor with a firmer texture than traditional cured smoked salmon.  It was just amazing.  I don't have their recipe.  But I'm working on it. 

Pictured above are salmon rillettes.  I have been making salmon rillettes for a few years now.  Think of this as something similar to tuna fish salad but made with salmon.  Rillettes is a French term for a soft spread made from meat or fish.  The classic salmon rillettes is made from fresh cooked salmon and smoked salmon, mixed with mayonnaise or butter.  This is a simple, but elegant appetizer for a party or a first course.  For those who don't think they like smoked salmon, you could leave it out and make this with just the cooked salmon.  The recipe calls for poaching the salmon, but you can improvise when you have left-over seared or roasted salmon.  Try this on crackers or toasted baguette slices.  I have also added a scoop to salad greens and it makes a delicious salad. 

Meanwhile, I have much research and trials to make my own smoked salmon. 

Salmon Rillettes
To poach the salmon:
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh salmon without skin

In a small saucepan, bring the white wine, water, shallot, and salt to a boil.  Cut the fresh salmon into 1-inch cubes.  When the wine/water mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add the cubed salmon to the pan; simmer until cooked through, about 2 minutes.  No more than 3 minutes.  Drain well.  Wrap the salmon and the shallots in plastic wrap; refrigerate until well chilled.  At least 1 hour or overnight. 

4 ounces smoked salmon, diced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the diced smoked salmon and the minced chives.  Add the chilled poached salmon.  Using a wooden spoon, break up the fresh salmon as you mix with the smoked salmon.  Stir in the lemon juice; add the mayonnaise.  Season with the salt and white pepper.  Gently stir to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Spread onto toasted baguette slices or crackers.