Thursday, July 18, 2013

Black Pepper Goat Cheese Burgers

Normally I'm not a huge burger fan- I can pretty much take em or leave em. Occasionally I will have a  yen for one though, and these have become the go to burgers in this house. I always have most of the ingredients on hand and just have to pick up some of my favorite pretzel buns (made in good ol' Milwaukee), fresh ground beef and/or portabella caps and we're in business.
You may think its the goat cheese whipped with coarsely cracked black pepper that makes these burgers... its not. Although a crucial element, its not what makes these burgers extraordinary. Its the garlic sesame oil they get a thorough dousing in that makes them so renowned in our house. You can definitely grill the burgers if you like, but I prefer mine thrown into a searingly hot cast iron skillet atop a melting knob of butter. Certainly not an everyday way to prepare them (at least you should try to abstain from frying your burgers in butter frequently), but O! are they dreamy.
serves 4 - 8... 1 beef burger or 2 portabellas per person

4 - 8 of your all time favorite burger buns
2 lbs organic grass fed ground chuck (for 4 burgers)
8 large portabella mushrooms (for 4 burgers)
5 - 6 oz chevre (soft goat cheese)
4 tsp coarsely cracked black pepper
splash of milk (preferably whole)
3 - 4 medium to large garlic cloves, grated on rasp or
   chopped into a paste
~1 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari
~2 tsp toasted sesame oil
~1 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
~1 tsp mirin
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (for beef burgers)
1 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil (for mushroom burgers)
4 - 8 Tbsp milk mayonnaise or regular mayo
1- 2 large ripe tomato, sliced

Place the chevre in a medium bowl and add pepper. With a hand held mixer, beat the cheese till smooth. Add a splash or two of milk and beat again for about 30 seconds. Set aside to come to room temp.

Preheat a 8 - 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Mix together the Bragg's, sesame oil, canola oil and mirin. Try the sauce and adjust the mirin & oils to taste. It should be very spicy from the garlic, subtly sweet and quite salty with a pleasant nuttiness from the sesame oil. Double the sauce if making 8 burgers.

Scrape out most of the gills from the mushrooms - this is an important step, since the gills release more moisture and they will cook more quickly without them, as well as not turn your mushrooms completely black. Spread some of the garlic sauce over each side. Add 1 Tbsp canola oil to the hot pan and add the caps (if you're making 8, this will need to be done in 2 batches). Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 - 4 on the second. Remove and set aside.

If making burgers as well (or instead), divide the meat into 4 1/2 lb patties. Try not to handle the meat too much, as this will make your burgers tough. Ensure the patties are thinner in the center so they stay flat while cooking. Top with some finely cracked black pepper. Spread the garlic sauce on each side. Add 2 Tbsp of butter to the pan and cook the burgers 2 at a time, (4 minutes on first side, 3 on the second or a bit longer if you like them done well) adding the remaining butter for the 2nd batch. Remove from pan and set aside.

Split your buns and smear the bottoms with about 1 Tbsp of milk mayo or regular mayo. Top with 1 beef burger or 2 portabellas. Add 2 slices of tomato and 1 - 2 heaping Tbsp of whipped black pepper chevre. Serve immediately.

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