July 5, 2009

All-American Burgers and Baked Beans

Tonight was beautiful...sunny, clear, and not too hot. Mr. Grumps and I grabbed two Blue Moons, some orange slices and headed out to the deck. And even though we ate like two crazies yesterday celebrating the 4th, we were still in the mood for burgers. I always try to have a supply of easy-to-grill meals in the freezer for this very occasion. No running to the store, no wasted food or time. With my family always coming and going, I've learned to package things up in two's or singles, so that way there's always a great meal ready and waiting. (Double bag some kaiser and sub rolls, and throw them in there as well. You can defrost one as needed by splitting it open, and placing it on the grill for a minute or two. It comes out toasty and flavorful!)

Now please bear with me for a quick, little lecture. Always purchase fresh, chilled, quality meat. It really does make a difference. I love to buy my meat at a local butcher shop. It's fresh ground and double packaged in heavy, white paper. I love it because it doesn't feel "mass produced", or thrown onto little styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic with a price tag. The beef there is always bright red in color, and the chicken is pale white. Think about what some of the meat looks like in the meat case at your grocery store, especially the larger chains. You can choose to buy your meat at the grocery store with hormones and antibiotics, or without. Wow, there's a choice? No thank you.

It gives me a headache just worrying about what I'm buying and feeding my family. That's why I make the trip to the butcher shop. I like talking to the sweet, elderly lady at the cash register who smiles and greets me each time, as well as the burly guy behind the meat counter, who I believe is her son.

He always has great ideas for cooking virtually every cut of meat, and hand picks the best chicken, steak and chops for each customer. The meat is only handled by the butcher, and I know it's properly stored at the right temperature. I've learned a lot about different cuts of meat to buy for specific recipes. I hope these little businesses aren't a dying breed. We need to get back to basics and stop sacrificing quality for convenience.

Okay, I'll get down off the soapbox now. Enjoy your burgers....

All-American Burgers
(makes 6-8 patties)

1 pound of ground sirloin (90-95% lean)
1 pound of ground chuck (80-85% lean)
2 tablespoons Heinz 57 sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning (less sodium version)
1/4 cup finely minced onion
4 basil leaves, finely sliced and chopped
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Wet your hands with cold water, and gently mix everything together thoroughly.

Using a cutting board or hard surface, take a handful of the meat mixture and shape it into a pattie. Sprinkle with additional Montreal Steak seasoning on both sides, then poke holes into the pattie using a large fork. This will help prevent shrinking and overcooking on the grill.

Place each pattie into a ziploc sandwich bag.

When assembled, put all bags into one large, ziploc freezer bag. This will prevent freezer burn and conserve space. Just pull out a burger (as well as a roll!) when you need it, and throw it frozen right on the grill.

Tonight we made cheeseburgers with pepperjack cheese and additional spicy condiments like horseradish mustard and Dinosaur BBQ brand slathering sauce.

Now, it wouldn't be summer without simmering baked beans as a side:

In Central New York, we are fortunate to have "Grandma Brown's Baked Beans" manufactured here. They are pretty much cooked and seasoned for you, and they're sooooo good. If you can't get this specific brand, look for beans that aren't already in a "sauce". If you're feeling motivated, you can soak and cook your own beans, but then you're stuck in the kitchen instead of enjoying the summer.

Bacon and Brown Sugar Beans

1 can of Grandma Brown's Baked Beans (14-16 oz. size)
(or your favorite brand)
5 slices of thick bacon or panchetta
2 thin slices of vidalia onion, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Spoon the beans right into the casserole dish. Top with bacon or panchetta, onion and brown sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until bacon is crisped and beans are simmering.

Happy summer! Back to healthier recipes next week- :)

1 comment:

Happiest Belly said...

You take GORGEOUS food pictures! :)