William Hand

William Hand

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

In no other time of the year does that advice apply more than right now – in the summer.

No one wants to fire up the stove when it’s 80 degrees and still daylight until 9 at night. This is grilling season and outdoor dining season.

This is that great time of year when your culinary skills are only as good as a full tank of gas under the grill or the charcoal inside of it.

This is the season of the year for eating on the patio, the deck, by the pool, on the beach, under an umbrella, on the tailgate of a truck, at a picnic table on the side of the road and on your back porch.

The formal dining room becomes that place you won’t see until Thanksgiving.

It’s the time of year when you sit on the swing or play fetch with the dog while you wait for the grill to heat up.

Some things might change and go in and out of style in the culinary world.

But the one thing that has been constant since 1891 – when Chef Otto Kuasw in Hamburg, Germany, dreamed it up – is the burger. And when that recipe for ground beef was introduced to the modern American grill, it was a marriage made in heaven – and a new summertime tradition was born.

Summer is definitely burger season. So grab your tongs, your spatula, your appetite and your toasted buns and follow me out into the yard ...

The Perfect Grilled Burger

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

Seasoned salt to taste

Preheat a grill for high heat.

In a medium bowl, lightly mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke and garlic powder.

Form into 3 patties, handling the meat minimally.

Brush both sides of each patty with some oil, and season with seasoned salt.

Place the patties on the grill grate, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until well done.

Million-Dollar Rib-Eye Burger

2 pounds rib-eye steaks

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon/2.5 mL black pepper

8-10 slices of Port Salut cheese

8-10 deep fried onion rings

4-5 brioche buns

Filling:

11/4 cups dried morel mushrooms

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/3 cup mushroom broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL chili powder

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

2 teaspoons chopped shallots

1/3 cup mushroom broth

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper

Place dried morel mushrooms into a medium bowl. Add 2 cups of hot water to bowl and allow mushrooms to steep for 11/2 hours. Remove mushrooms from water and place onto cutting board.

Using a kitchen strainer, strain liquid mushroom were steeping in, into another bowl to remove impurities. This liquid is your mushroom broth.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil, add 1/2 tablespoon diced shallots. Cook for 2 minutes.

Cut mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and add to skillet. Cook for an additional minute.

Add remaining liquid ingredients and seasonings to skillet.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until most of the liquid has dissipated. Make sure to stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

For sauce, heat oil and add 2 teaspoons diced shallots. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer until sauce has reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool.

The sauce can be made ahead of time.

Preheat grill for medium high heat.

Cut excess fat off steaks and cut into chunks. Grind meat according to preference. Add salt and black pepper. Form into eight to 10 thin patties. Fill up to five of the patties with mushroom filling.

Place remaining patties on top and gently, yet firmly seal edges. Make sure not to over fill. Put patties onto grill grate and cook for 5 minutes per side.

Move patties to cooler part of grill and cook for an additional 5 minutes or more depending on thickness of patties.

Add cheese slices to patties and cook until cheese has melted.

Remove from heat, and place onto a baking sheet. Toast buns, cut side down, minutes. Remove from heat.

Assemble your burger to your liking, topping the burger with the sauce and the onion rings.

Brat Burger

11/2 pounds bratwurst

1 cup sauerkraut

12 pickle slices

4 hamburger buns

Dijon style mustard

Cut casings from bratwursts and combine. Divide into four equal parts and form into patties.

Preheat grill.

These bratwurst burgers are going to have a higher fat content than regular burgers, so grill them at a medium heat and watch for flare-ups.

When burgers are cooked through, remove from the grill. Place on bun and top with sauerkraut, pickles and mustard.

Cuban Burger

1 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground chorizo

1 teaspoon

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat your grill for medium heat.

Combine meat and spices in a large bowl. Form into 6-8 patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Place on grill and cook 6 minutes per side.

Remove from grill and serve on deli rolls with favorite condiments.

I’d suggest chili peppers, mustard, fresh tomatoes and thin onion slices.

Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburger

11/2 pounds ground beef

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 large onion diced

1/4 pound chopped, crisp cooked bacon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoon beer

In a mixing bowl, combine bacon, onion, cheddar cheese and set aside.

Combine beef, salt and beer, mix thoroughly, the shape into 6 thin patties.

Put bacon/onion/cheese mixture on three patties.

Top with remaining patties and press edges to seal.

Grill until well done, about 4 minutes per side.

•  •  •  •  • 

Where’s the beef? Not in either of these “beef alternative” burgers:

Open-Faced Prosciutto and Plum Sandwiches

1/4 cup fig preserves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

3 ounces soft goat cheese

4 slices wheat or whole grain bread, toasted

1 cup loosely packed arugula

2 ripe plums, cut into thin wedges

3 ounces very thin slices prosciutto

Combine first three ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Spread 3/4 ounce cheese evenly over each bread slice; divide arugula, plum wedges, and prosciutto evenly over sandwiches.

Drizzle each sandwich with about 1 tablespoon fig preserves mixture.

Salmon Cake Burgers

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound salmon fillet, skinned and chopped

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

1 large egg white

Cooking spray

8 slices focaccia, toasted

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Combine hot pepper sauce and egg white in a small bowl; add egg white mixture to salmon mixture, stirring well to combine.

Divide the mixture into four equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add salmon patties, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Serve patties on toasted focaccia.

William Hand is a chef with 30 years of experience. He has previously worked for restaurants in California, Hawaii and Ohio. He has been a food writer for magazines and newspapers for 20 years and the lab coordinator at Allegany College of Maryland’s Culinaire Cafe in Cumberland for 15 years. He has been Allegany Magazine’s Culinary Contributor since 2006.

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