Monday, September 6, 2010

A different burger for Labor Day dinner

We all labored mightily this weekend to clear our cluttered home of things we don't need -- including all sorts of strange must-keeps from the last purge, like at least a dozen unused, still-wrapped VHS cassettes. Tim's car is loaded with donatables and our jumbo garbage bin is too full to close. We'll actually have to ask a neighbor who was away for the holiday if we can stash more trash in his.

We feel fairly righteous about our accomplishments, and tickled to have located old family photos and other forgotten treasures. Among my weekend discoveries is, I'm pretty sure, a new understanding of where one's rotator cuff is located. Still, I can lift my arms enough to repeatedly open formerly jam-packed cupboards and closets to admire their orderly glow.

Our satisfaction is tempered, though, by the thought of next weekend's task of tackling the attic, which Tim said would likely qualify us for an episode of "Hoaders."

Despite dealing with this or running errands all weekend, we managed today to work in a bit of the traditional: the US Open blared in the background and requisite food breaks featured "angus" hot dogs for lunch and burgers for dinner. I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary with the burgers and opted for a Thai-inspired blend that delivered savory success. We slammed them before I thought to take a photo but, colorfully flecked with carrot and cilantro and topped with buttery avocado slices, trust me, they looked as good as they tasted.

The meat we used was simply labeled "ground beef" by a local organic provider, Rare Earth Farms of Raleigh. If you want a juicy burger, choose at least 10-15 percent fat. Remember, a lot of it drips out while cooking, and what remains is flavor.

We served this with delicious Cauliflower and Potato Salad from Guilty Kitchen. I lost track of the garlic and shallots and they became rather well carmelized -- which is to say, just this side of burned. I didn't have more and decided to use them anyway. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they added a nice chewy bite, almost like bacon bits but all veggie.

1 small carrot, shredded
1/4 cup red onion, shredded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp chunky peanut butter (such as Jif)
hot sauce, to taste
salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
split buns, lightly grilled
mayonnaise, *mustard

Gather first seven ingredients in mixing bowl; mash or stir well to combine. Add beef and blend with a light hand. Chill about 10-15 minutes.

Form into 3-4 hamburgers. Grill to desired doneness.

Lightly grill buns; dress with mayo, mustard and avocado slices.

*Graham is in a Dijon phase (Grey Poupon, mais oui ); we used a drizzle of Gulden's Honey Mustard.

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