Monday, June 20, 2011

Better with Butter

Is there anything that butter does not make better?  My entire body says “No!” (and unfortunately, as the song goes, my hips don’t lie). 

This past week was a rather indulgent one.  My little sister graduated from high school on the 11th.  That evening I ate a large, cheese laden dinner, had a slice of chocolate-peanut butter cake, and then went out for song and drink at a Korean Karaoke place. 

My husband’s 30th birthday was on Tuesday.  That was dinner at a local Korean grill (the Korean theme just happened unintentionally) where I first tried Bibimbap!  It will be hard not to order that every time we go back.  I also made him chocolate toffee bars.  This recipe called for one pound of butter!  They are a crumbly, cakey, cookie bar, with the brown butter flavor of toffee and topped with chopped nuts pressed into melted chocolate.  In a word: delicious.

Then there was drinking and eating with friends on Thursday downtown (I am going to have to recreate the fried green tomato BLT I had out sometime at home this summer) and Tess’s actual graduation party on Saturday, with more cheese laden food and more cake. 

But, Friday was really where it was at.  Friday was supposed to be an easy day at home.  I remember it was not, but I can’t quite remember why.  There was much tension throughout the day, but that afternoon made everything better.  My parents got my husband a charcoal grill for his birthday, and this past Friday we christened it with the best burgers we’ve ever made.  Add to that some home made strawberry lemonade, grilled corn on the cob, and blowing bubbles with Max and Sam, and we ended up with our easy summer afternoon.

The Best Burgers

My husband loves burgers.  Burgers are many times his benchmark of a restaurant.  So, it made me very happy when he finished his first one on Friday and said, “You know, you go out and order a great burger, and everyone says ‘Wow, this is great, but it’s never as good as home made.’  Before, I never got that. Now I do.”

I have a tendency to want to complicate dishes with herbs and spices, or try out different techniques.  I think I feel that the more components to a meal, the more of myself I can put into it.  I purposefully tried not to do that this time, but the method can lend itself to some interesting variations.

You will need:

4 T butter, softened
1 ¼ lb ground beef
Buns and whatever “fixin’s” you like

First, get your charcoal grill going.

Roll the softened butter into a log.  If you want to make a more creative burger, you could add fresh, chopped herbs to the butter, or garlic, perhaps some chipotle peppers, before you roll it.  It’s up to you.  After you have your soft butter in log form, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until solid, about 30 minutes.

Divide your beef into four sections and, handling the beef as little as possible, shape it into patties.  Now, take out your butter, and cut the log into four equal pieces.  Flatten each round into a disc.  Place each butter disc in the center of the patty, and shape the beef around it.  Remember, the patties will shrink on the grill, so you want to press them down and make them a little wider than the bun.

Season the patties with salt and pepper, and then grill them over direct heat until desired doneness, trying to turn as few times as possible.  Be sure not to pierce them or press on them with a spatula.  The butter will melt and seep into the rest of the patty, keeping it juicy and flavorful.  All you may really need is a piece of cheese melted on the top.

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