Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Burger Bash Entry

Okay, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me. Maybe it was the thought that as a winner I would get airfare for 2 to Miami and last winter, when we had unseasonable amounts of snow and ice, and that sounded really attractive. Oh, if I'd won I had not the slightest intention of attending the SoBe Wine and Food Festival and cooking alongside Rachael Ray. No, I would have elected to spend my weekend on the beach soaking up some melanoma.

With that thought uppermost, I actually decided to devise a burger recipe for the much-hyped Burger Bash. Not that I think the world really needs another burger. Frankly I do not believe that one really needs more than a nicely grilled patty, salt and pepper, mayo, tomato, lettuce and a bun. My favorite was those slipping apart beauties at the now-defunct Portland restaurant Yaw's. But what the hey.

I didn't think my recipe was all that bad. A little different, a little weird, but it was surprisingly okay. The rules indicated that you were limited to 10 ingredients. If I had realized that salt and pepper didn't count, it would have turned out a bit differently.

What tortured amalgam of unlikely and seemingly incompatible foods could be thrown together ala Rach? Given her penchant for odd ethnic food pairings I finally hit on it: a cassoulet burger. But how could this complex, time-consuming dish be converted into a burger?

It wasn't really that much trouble. I googled many recipes and saw that the primary flavors were sausage and garlic. The Alsatian Cassoulet recipe I used as a starting point featured cabbage, apples, shallots and beer. In view of the 10 ingredient rule, including garnish, the most challenging aspect was to capture the essential flavors without going over the allowed number of ingredients.

I ended up with what I called the Aslatian Cassoulet Burger. Despite my best efforts to create something that looked as if it had been pulled straight out of the culinarily-warped mind of Rachael Ray the recipe wasn't half bad. Tasty, even. It included a patty made from turkey sausage and a topping made of shallots, sliced tart apple, vinegar and canned white beans.

The day for notification of winninghood came and went without me hearing that the judging panel adored my recipe and couldn't wait for me to go cook it alongside Rach. Can't really say that I was either surprised or disappointed, as I couldn't quite picture myself performing the requisite tongue-biting and brown-nosing that would be necessary in order to follow through with the ordeal.

However, many an eyebrow was raised around here when a very similar recipe  turned up on one of RR's sites. I couldn't exactly say that she ripped me off, especially since she left out poor old Granny Smith, but one is nonetheless left with an impression that this "contest," if not fixed, was promoted mainly to provide RR with ideas, of which a dearth burgeons daily. Harumpf!

At any rate, since Roachie-poo won't be featuring my recipe in her eponymous rag and I have not released copyright to it, here it is! Of course, it isn't exactly swimming in oil and cheese like your standard Rachipe, but it is different, creatively used the allowed number of items, was filling, high protein and low fat. Oh, no wonder it didn't win.

Alsatian Cassoulet Burgers
1 ½ lbs turkey sausage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large tart apple such as Granny Smith or Gravenstein, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 ½ c beef stock, dry white wine or beer
1 15 oz can of navy or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
¼ c cider vinegar
4 crushed wheat hamburger buns, toasted

Combine sausage and garlic and shape into 4 equal patties. Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet. When hot, add onions and apples. Sauté a few minutes and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium high, then deglaze the pan with the stock, wine or beer. Bring to a boil and add beans and cider vinegar. Lower heat to medium and cook until liquid is nearly all gone, about another 10 minutes. 

While the apple mixture is reducing, fry sausage patties in a cast iron pan. Cook until juices run clear, 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, if necessary. Place on bottom half of bun. Top with apple mixture and bun top.

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