March was International Hamburger and Pickle Month, and when I discovered this bit of trivia, I thought it had a lot of possibilities for good recipes.
I recently barbecued some hamburgers because I just couldn’t wait for summer to arrive. Our early spring weather has been mild enough to get the grill fired up. I even made a potato salad to go with the burgers, although I still missed having some nice potato chips to crunch. This may sound weird (like that’s a surprise?), but I like to take a bite of burger and a bite of chip, then chew it all together. Kind of hard to do when you pile the fixings so high you almost need a C-clamp to take a bite of the burger.
Think the traditional things such as tomato slice, pickles, a slab of red onion, lettuce or some other type of greens and if you like, some cheese. Or avocado and bacon. Unless you have a really thin patty and a bun that flattens out like a soggy piece of paper, you’ve got to open your mouth pretty wide to take a bite.
I like to use different types of bakery rolls instead of the usual hamburger buns, because those soft, whipped-air buns disintegrate when I try to use them. They can’t hold up to a hefty burger. Well, great, now I am hungry just thinking about this. Better get on with it before I raid the refrigerator.
Bread and butter pickles
Start this recipe the night before, as the cucumbers and onions will need to drain overnight.
3 pounds crisp pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1. Place the cucumbers and onions in a colander resting in a large bowl or in the sink. Toss with the salt and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. This process will allow the cucumber slices to release a lot of their water content.
2. Rinse the cucumbers and onions and then place in a single layer on a couple of sheet pans lined with paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and let dry overnight.
3. The next day, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric in a large saucepan. Heat to a boil.
4. Fill sterilized canning jars with the cucumbers and onions, leaving about 1/2-inch space from the top of the jars. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions to fill the jars. Seal the jars according to manufacturer's directions.
5. Allow the filled jars to sit for several days before opening to allow the flavors to fully develop. The pickles taste best when served chilled. Makes 4 to 5 cups pickles.
3 3/4 cups water
3 3/4 cups white or cider vinegar
6 tablespoons pickling salt
2 1/4 pounds 4-inch pickling cucumbers (about 36 cucumbers)
6 to 8 tablespoons dill seed (I prefer to use fresh dill. Add 2 to 3 heads to each jar. I also like a few garlic cloves added.)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
6 sterilized pint canning jars with lids and bands
1. Make the pickling brine by mixing water, vinegar and pickling salt in a saucepan. Heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
2. To prepare cucumbers: Wash the cucumbers thoroughly. Cut off the stems and cut a 1/4-inch slice from each end.
3. Place five to six cucumbers into each pint canning jar. Leave 1/2 inch of headroom between the cucumbers and the top of the jar. Place 3 to 4 teaspoons of the dill seed (or 2 to 3 fresh dill heads) and 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard seed in each jar. Add garlic cloves, if desired.
4. Using a funnel, ladle the brine carefully into each jar, filling it to within 1/2 inch of the top. Remove the funnel. Wipe the edge of the jar with a clean, damp paper towel. Place the seal and lid in place and tighten. Repeat with the remaining jars.
5. Place the sealed jars into the boiling water in the canner. Make sure the jars do not touch each other. Cover the canner. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the canning bath and allow to cool.
6. Let the sealed jars stand at room temperature for one week. They can then be stored up to one year in a cool, dark place. Once the sealed jars are opened, store them in the refrigerator. Makes 6 pints.
Portabella, portobello, doesn’t matter in this recipe.
2 cups portabella mushrooms, cubed, gills removed
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and divided
1 cup minced broccoli (fresh only)
1/2 cup red onion, minced
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons panko crumbs (use gluten free if you like)
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (there is a version that is anchovy free)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a large bowl add 1 cup of black beans and mash with a masher (chunks are fine). Add in the mushrooms, remaining black beans, broccoli, garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce and steak seasoning. Mix until well blended but do not over mix. Gently mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Set mixture aside.
2. Place a medium non-stick pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer (about a minute or two), using dampened hands (the mixture will stick to you if you don’t), scoop a 1/2 cup of mixture into the palm of your hand and gently shape into a burger all the while pressing together. The mixture should hold a burger shape. If it doesn’t add just a tablespoon more of bread crumbs.
3. Place in the oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown and a crust has formed on each side. Serve with hummus, guacamole or steak sauce, Makes 8 to 10 burgers.
Grill Mates Worcestershire Pub Seasoning blend
Grill Mates Montreal Steak Sauce
1 pound or a little more ground chuck
4 slices sharp Cheddar cheese
8 slices cooked bacon
4 hamburger buns
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Loosely form 1/4-pound burger patties and generously apply Grill Mates Worcestershire Pub Burger seasoning.
2. In a skillet, add olive oil and sliced onions and cook until nicely caramelized (about 30 minutes). Cook bacon until crisp.
3. Grill burgers and when almost finished melt cheese over top and apply bacon. Add caramelized onions on top of bacon and cheese, then pour steak sauce over top of the burger and put it on a soft bun. Makes 4 burgers.