Thursday Recipe Exchange: A Plateful of Burgers

Photo by JeffreyW who has so many photos of burgers I had a hard time choosing.

Friends and I were out shopping last week and decided it was lunch time. We drove by a place with an intriguing name and decided to try it. To our surprise, we were their first-ever customers. They were having a soft launch and we were the first through the door. I had my reservations, but we were feeling adventurous and the experience was a success. If we’re in that neighborhood, I believe we would lunch there again.

The menu was full of tasty things, including African Ghost Spice Fries, which were perfectly spiced. I’m sorry I didn’t ask them to elaborate on what the heck “African Ghost Spice” was, because it was not something I could identify but would love to use myself. Several items had it as a feature, most tantalizing was the African Spiced Grilled Chicken. The other item on the menu that caught my eye was bison. Almost all their beef items offered a bison option instead. I was tempted, because I like bison meat, but I felt we were already in unknown territory and bison is tricky to cook properly. We all settled on various beef burgers, each very good – moist and well flavored, served on ciabatta bread.

That brought me to my idea for a two-part recipe exchange. I have a variety of burgers I make because by mid-summer grilling the same burger recipe, while tasty, lacks challenge. I thought I’d start with four tonight and conclude with several more next week.

First up: My basic burger recipe that has never failed to produce moist, flavorful burgers. I sprung it on my parents at the age of 10 and my family has used it ever since. Recipe here.

Next up: Black Bean Cheddar Burgers (recipe here) which I love, but find the frozen ones often lack, well, everything – flavor, texture, freshness. So I went hunting for a decent recipe.

Tonight’s featured recipes are Bleu Cheese Burgers and Bison Burgers.

Are you burger fan? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? If you’re vegetarian, do you have a favorite substitute? I’m always looking for something beyond black bean burgers for meatless nights. Next week there will be flavors from around the globe to continue the theme.

Bison Burgers

You can substitute bison in almost any burger recipe, but it’s very lean, so you may want to add ground beef to it, or cheeses or additional olive oil, in order to cook a moist burger.  This recipe uses tomato sauce to keep the burgers moist.

  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs or 1 slice fresh bread, crust removed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp ea: thyme, rosemary, marjoram
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs ground bison
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil

large deep skillet w/lid

Mix all ingredients, except oil, until well combined. Divide into 4 patties.

Heat oil in skillet, add patties. Sear for 2 minutes, each side, then reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Bison is a very lean meat, so you want to cook it slowly and avoid over cooking it. You can grill them, but you’ll want to do in on a very low heat on a well oiled surface and you might want to go 50/50 with lean hamburger.

Bleu Cheese Burgers

  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp hot wing sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 oz blue cheese, divided into 1 oz crumbles

bowl

In bowl, combine all ingredients, except bleu cheese and mix well. Form into 8 thin patties, place 1 oz of cheese between two burgers, seal edges and gently flatten, so burger surrounds cheese. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve on onion rolls or focaccia bread.

Burger week continues…

Mmm…hot wings

Mrs J doesn’t care for the usual hot wing sauce so I fried these wings plain and made just enough sauce for mine.  She has no problem with my twice baked potatoes, though.  The Mexi-corn has become a favorite side for us both.

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Mmm…hot wings

The last time we fixed these we used the store brand wing sauce.  Mrs J complained that it seemed a bit rich, and I agreed.  It seemed greasy to me on top of that.  In general, though, I liked the hot wings concept and decided to give them another whirl today.

I read through a dozen or so recipes for wing sauces for ideas and came up with a recipe that seemed to pass muster.  I went with the basic recipe: 1/4 C hot sauce, 1/4 C butter and added a few tweaks.  I added another 1/2 t of paprika, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a little red wine vinegar, a half  T of brown sugar, and a full T of chili sauce-the stuff that looks a lot like ketchup.  I had Heinz chili sauce on hand so that’s what I used.  I saw some recipes that called for ketchup.

The overall heat of the sauce is determined in large part by the choice of hot sauce you make your sauce with.  I used the store brand hot sauce that was pretty mild.  I’m sure bar fights have broken out over what is the correct hot sauce to use but I’m not all that picky.  Naturally, a good measure of cayenne along with the paprika will have an impact.  More or less sugar or vinegar will take you in a slightly different direction.  I would bet that my next batch of wing sauce won’t be the same as the one I turned out this afternoon.  That is half the fun of cooking.

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Kid Friendly: Easy Hot Wing Chicken

I love hot wings and have been known to order the hot wing appetizer at restaurants instead of an actual meal.  Wingman’s just north of Denver is one of my favorite hot wing spots.  And I can get their sauce at the local grocers, so that’s the one I use in this recipe.  I came up with this for the weekly Kid’s Night menus, quick, easy and hot wing sauce, my kind of recipe.

Hot Wing Chicken

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • ½ to ¾ cup favorite buffalo wing sauce
  • ¼ to ½ cup bleu cheese dressing
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and sauté until golden brown.  Reduce heat, cover and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add wing sauce (start with ½ cup, add more as needed) and ¼ cup bleu cheese dressing (more as needed).  Salt & pepper to taste.  If the chicken is too spicy, add more dressing until desired flavor is achieved.  Simmer additional 5 minutes. Serve over rice. (I will tell you I’ve served it over waffle fries, too.)