07 May 2012

Burgers & Fries

When it gets a little bit warmer (Austin today: 95 degrees F), it's pretty inevitable that the grill gets fired up. The other night, I decided to make some awesome burgers. What goes with awesome burgers? Awesome fries, of course. I have a small deep fryer (we're talking toaster-sized here) which is great, but you can easily do these fries in a large pot on a stove. The main issue is temperature control - if the oil gets too hot, it'll burn the fries before they're cooked through. If it's too cold, they'll come out all soggy and oily and disgusting. The ones I made? Not disgusting. Say it with me: awesome.

I made some Thousand Island dressing to go with the burgers and served them with red onion, tomato, and lettuce. I forgot to put some cheese on top (there's cheese in the patty, though), but you can stick a slice of cheddar, jack, or any other firm cheese on there if you want to! The recipe below makes a meal for two.

Mozzarella-stuffed Burgers with French Fries

3/4 lb ground beef (I used 6% fat)
1 oz mozzarella cheese
1 garlic clove
Black pepper
3 firm potatoes
Peanut oil
Sweet relish
White wine vinegar
Red onion
Burger buns

Start by preparing the potatoes for deep frying. Peel (or don't - up to you, just clean them if you decide not to) the potatoes and place in a large bowl filled with cold water. One by one, cut them up into uniform sticks. It's not super important that they're the exact same size but you certainly don't want them to be too different considering you want them to cook uniformly. Place the fries back in the cold water and add a bunch of ice cubes to keep it really chilly (or just stick the bowl in the fridge) for about an hour.

To make the burgers, put the ground beef, mozzarella, garlic, about a tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and 1/2 tsp of cumin in a large bowl. Stir with your hands or a large wooden spoon until completely combined. Divide the mix into two equal parts and form two burgers. Remember that they'll shrink a bit when cooked, so don't worry about making them a little thin. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to grill.

To make the Thousand Island dressing, combine 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 tsp relish, 1 tsp sugar, and a dash of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Done! Also, now would be a good time to slice the tomato and onion.

To ensure everything's ready at the same time, I suggest making the fries while the grill is heating up and then keeping them warm in a 200 degrees F oven while cooking the burgers. Fill your fryer with peanut oil to the adequate depth or, if using a pot on the stove, up to about 3-4 inches. Heat the oil to 325 degrees F. Grab a handful of fries from the water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Cook in the oil for about 3 minutes, until soft and pale. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the remaining fries, making sure you never crowd the pot or fryer.

Fire up the grill! If you have a gas grill, set it to medium heat. If it's charcoal, you can't control temperature as well so I guess just light it and wait until the fire has died and the coal is smoldering.

Increase the oil temperature to 375 degrees F and set your oven to 200 degrees F. Fry the french fries in small batches until browned, again making sure you don't crowd the fryer or pot. Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Once the fries are done, toss with some salt and black pepper in a large bowl.

While the fries are cooking, grill the burgers until they're your preferred temperature. I like mine medium, which takes about 3-4 minutes per side.

Slather some Thousand Island dressing on the bottom bun, then add lettuce, the burger, some red onion, and a slice of tomato. Finish with the top half of the bun and enjoy immediately with the fries.