Wednesday, June 4, 2014

16 Burgers of Summer: Whiskey Burger

Good evening everyone! One of my favorite “mediums” to use within cooking is alcohol. It’s a divisive ingredients, with some folks swearing by it and others running for the hills fearful of…well, I’m not really sure what they’re afraid of – but rest assured, people ARE afraid to use it.

I can understand if you’ve run across a recipe or two featuring alcohol that didn’t end well – if done incorrectly, alcohol can ruin a dish in an instant. But when it’s used properly, you can extract great – complex and extravagant flavors into your recipes. I generally enjoy using alcohol in my dishes as I’ve found it adds quite a bit of depth to a dish, and it’s versatile in its flavor “distribution” (from pasta sauces to soups and braises, there’s not a dish it can’t help) So, when I found a recipe featuring burgers AND alcohol – I knew I had to pounce at an opportunity to adapt it for the blog.

Adapt is the key word here, the original concept called for a beer cheese center and a whole lot of extra “fluff” that screamed more gourmet than practical – what I ended up with was a blending that I’ve dubbed practical gourmet – high end flavors, yet easy prep. Let’s get cooking!

The Recipe: Whiskey Burgers

What You’ll Need:

1 Pound 80/20 Ground Beef
½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs
1/3 Cup Whiskey
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
½ Tablespoon Garlic Powder
Pinch of Salt / Pinch of Pepper

Combine everything but the beef in a large bowl. I found that mixing the ingredients was easier without the beef involved, simply use a large whisk and stir gently until everything is blended. Once combined, add in the beef and use your hands to turn and work the mixture into the beef. Once everything is nicely combined, work the beef into four separate balls and pat them into nice wide patties.

Without the traditional binding agents (read: egg) and with some extra moisture (whiskey) these burgers were quite loose after being initially formed. To fix this, simply stick them on a plate and let them refrigerate for about an hour before cooking. A little rest in the chill chest will tighten up the mixture and keep the burgers together on the grill.

Once you’re ready to grill, simply preheat – clean and set the grill to medium and then cook the burgers to your desired doneness. (We average 3 to 5 minutes per side for a medium well burger).

During the final moments of cooking, add a slice of cheese of your choosing (we used pepperjack) and allow it to melt around the burger. Serve on a fresh bun and top with lettuce and BBQ sauce and enjoy!

The Results:

Our burger is pictured sans lettuce simply because we didn’t have any in the kitchen when I cooked up this dish – which is shame because lettuce would have really completed this dish. With the BBQ sauce, red pepper flakes and the pepperjack cheese this burger carried a bit of heat on it’s own – then you factor in the whiskey…

Oh, yes, the whiskey. It imparted an amazing smoky flavor to the burger and also quite a bit of bite. While most alcohol based dishes are safe for kids because the alcohol cooks off during the process – I’d mark this one as “not for kids” as the final flavor indicated that a good bit of that whiskey was still hanging around with the beef. Adults that appreciate the flavor of whiskey will love this burger – kids, not so much.

All in all the flavors of this burger are bold and have a bit of bite – and that’s a good thing. It’s nice to have a little more than boring ground beef every now and again. BUT the lettuce is a must. It would neutralize and blend the flavors just a bit, making this a perfect recipe for the adult burger crowd.

That’s all we have for you this evening. Maggie will take to the kitchen tomorrow night to give a second chance to a source whose first entry on the blog went…poorly. Until then,


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