Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Great Burgers from the Grill!

One of the great pleasures of the summer, in my opinion, is hamburgers on the grill. We always start out the summer with regular hamburgers, maybe brushed with a little soy sauce mixed with finely minced garlic. Lettuce, tomato, pickles…you know what I mean. But after a bit I start thinking of ways to make a more amusing burger.

Recently I got an email from a former Mantia’s guest who asked about our "Bombay Burger." Each week we had a special burger of the week, and this was one of the more popular. We used pre-formed high quality angus beef burgers, so all the flavor went on the outside. We would blend chopped garlic, grated ginger and Thai sweet chili sauce with olive oil and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Then at cooking time, we would paint the burger with the infused oil.

But working at home gives a little more latitude than when you're feeding a hundred or more for lunch each day, so I mixed all the goodies right into the ground beef.  All the guests agreed that the results were even more delicious!

When I’m going to do my burgers on the grill I like at least a 20% fat content in the ground beef. That keeps the burgers moist, especially for those who like their burgers a little more well done. Don’t overwork the meat. Start with cold ground beef, and just sort of crumble it. Sprinkle the ingredients over the top and toss to combine.  And don't squish it down too much as you form the burgers.  Pat them together just enough to make sure they don't come apart and fall down into the coals.  I hate it when that happens!

You could do this, too, with ground turkey, but be sure to use the mixed ground white and dark meat. I’ve never found a way to keep all-white ground turkey moist and juicy on the grill.  And I’ve had more success with grilled turkey burgers if I brush the outside with a bit of olive oil.

The aioli starts with store-bought mayonnaise, but if you'd rather make your own, be my guest.  This spread is also particularly good on roast beef or roast turkey sandwiches, too.  And I bet it would be equally successful with crab cakes.

To accompany this, I made potato salad with an olive oil and white wine vinegar dressing, with roasted poblano chiles, chopped cilantro and minced red onion. You could just as easily use canned green chiles instead of the poblanos. I bet if you bought carry-out potato salad and added the canned chilies it would still be quite tasty. Slice some farmers’ market tomatoes onto a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and you have the perfect outdoor grill dinner.


1 ½ lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. Thai sweet chili sauce
4 green onions, with some of the green top, finely minced
2 tsp. salt
Curry Chutney Aioli:
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed or very finely minced
¼ cup Major Grey mango chutney
2 tsp. curry powder
To finish:
4 crusty buns or ciabatta rolls
Sliced tomato

Mix all the burger ingredients together and form four burgers. Put them in a single layer on a plate, cover and chill until ready to cook.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the aioli ingredients. Some chutneys have big chunks. If yours does, chop them into smaller pieces. Cover and chill at least an hour for flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, grill burgers to your desired level of doneness. Alternatively, cook in a hot skillet, or under a broiler, until done as desired.

Place each on a bun or ciabatta roll, spread with prepared aioli and sprinkle with cilantro. Top with arugula and tomato. Serve at once. Makes four burgers.
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