Battle Burgers!

So it’s been another long time between posts, but for this one I pulled out all the stops.  I’m entered in the fifth battle this year on Foodie Fights – Battle Burger, so I tried to come up with something not only delicious, but also different from anything out there.  I love Mark Bittman’s column, The Minimalist, and when the battle was announced to be burgers, on the same day he posted a couple of burger recipes that push the envelope beyond just straight up ground beef.  Not wanting to crib from such a widely read column in a competition, I didn’t do any of those, but used it as a jumping-off point to create what I am dubbing Rudebwoy Surf and Turf Burgers.  Surf and Turf because the meat is a mixture of  beef and shrimp that I ground in a food processor (a recent acquisition after my grandmother got a new one for Mothers’ Day) and rdebwoy because they are seasoned with Jamaican-inspired jerk spices and dressed with banana mayonnaise.  I served them up to a bunch of my friends at a cookout and they were a huge hit.  I’m usually something of a purist as far as burgers go; this was my first time making them with any kind of seasonings in the meat mixture, and definitely the first time serving them without ketchup and mustard, but they were phenomenal.  Even though a real rasta wouldn’t touch these due to the shrimp, these burgers had a great spicy Caribbean flavor complemented perfectly with the creamy and slightly sweet banana mayonnaise.  Beef and shrimp may be a bit of a non-sequitur, but if you won’t take my word for how great they were, you can check out the reaction shots!

I started by making a batch of Mark Bittman’s Light Brioche Buns from the New York Times last year.  I never made hamburger buns before, but they came out really well even though I substituted in a cup of whole wheat flour and used yogurt instead of milk.  Then I made a quick spice blend to season the burgers with.

Jerk Spice Blend

Ingredients

1 T. allspice berries

1 T. dried thyme

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground coriander

1 t. ground habanero pepper

Directions

Grind up the allspice berries with a pestle and mortar and mix in the rest of the spices.  That’s it really.  If you’re using whole coriander or cinnamon, grind those up with the pestle and mortar too.  I just had the ground stuff on hand for those so that’s what I used here.  Nutmeg and clove would be good in here too if you have it, in a lesser proportion than the allspice and thyme – those are the two flavors that really make jerk seasoning.  The habanero too.  If you don’t have the ground stuff – and I’m guessing that will be the case for the vast majority, we just happened to have some that we barely use because it is freakishly, just really painfully hot, one or two fresh ones all minced up in the meat would do the trick.

Surf & Turf Burgers

Ingredients

1 1/3 lbs. chuck beef

2/3 lb. uncooked shrimp

2 cloves garlic

1 T. fish sauce

1 scallion chopped

1 T. minced ginger

1 T. jerk seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pulse the shrimp and garlic in food processor until just chopped and remove to large bowl.

Pulse the beef in food processor until coarsely ground (be sure not to over-process it) and put it in the bowl bowl with the shrimp.


Add fish sauce, scallions, ginger, and spices.  A lot of jerk sauces use soy sauce as their base, but I thought fish sauce would be really good with the shrimp in this to help the seafood flavor stand out more.  The ginger and scallions give it some freshness and almost bring an Asian flavor to the burgers.

Mix, handling the meat as little as possible.  Shape into patties.  I didn’t really have anything to put the patties on and I didn’t think about it until I started making them so I but them on some cut up paper plates until I cooked them the next day.  It’s good to give the burgers a little time in the refrigerator to set up and cling to each other better.  It also lets the flavor of the seasonings sit in and permeate the meat.  I wrapped them in plastic wrap and let them go overnight.  This makes eight quarter pound burgers, but you can make them bigger or smaller to your taste.

This is when I made the banana mayonnaise and pretended like it was the weekend.  I didn’t take any pics of that process because the whole thing was pretty frenetic, I just had the most basic idea of what I was doing and ended up making like 10 cups of the stuff.  No one told me that two eggs worth of mayo was so much!

Banana Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 eggs

2 bananas

juice of 1 lime

2 cups neutral oil

Directions

Blend the eggs, bananas, and juice in a blender, then slowly drizzle in the oil.  I used regular old canola oil.  Keep it going until you have a nice thick emulsion.  You definitely may want to halve this recipe, because it will leave with with more banana mayonnaise than I use regular mayo in a year.  No joke, this makes a buttload of mayonnaise.

When you’re ready for it to be grill time, invite some of your friends over (the keg is optional).

Get some coals going on the grill, so one side is nice and hot and t’row dem tings on!

My friend pointed out that the shrimp meat in there makes the burgers look not so great in the picture, but trust me, they were out of this world.  They only need to cook about 4 minutes on each side, so don’t stray when they’re on there.

Lightly toast your buns, just for about fifteen seconds over the hot part of the grill, then slather on some banana mayonnaise and drop a burger on there.  We were really wishing we had some shredded cabbage or something to top it with, but these were so delicious it barely mattered.

Let your friends put them to the test!

We had other friends that were vegetarian or else didn’t eat red meat, so these two and I and one of our other guests got to take down the whole batch.  We also had a smoked pork butt and smoked and grilled sardines that day as well as a keg of beer that took the party on a turn for the debauched by the end of the night.  All in all, the barbeque was an unqualified success, though! The burgers were crispy and beefy and shrimpy, all in a good way with a cool and fruity banana mayo that took them over the edge.  It is a little more work to grind all the meat, but this departure from regular burgers is well worth the work.  Be sure to vote for me at: Foodie Fights!

Music Selection

I am particularly proud of my BBQ playlist.  It’s got a mix of rock and roll music, old R&B, reggae, and some summer rap anthems, and that was going on all day long.  Since this is a contest, though, the song I’m choosing from that list is DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” with T-Pain, Ludacris, Rick Ross, and Snoop.  It’s such a banger,  a great summer jam, and I’m hoping it will bring me luck in the competition.

Beer Selection

Well we ate these along with kegged Yuengling beer and it was delicious, but I think a great accompaniment would be a Belgian White, like Great Lake’s Holy Moses or if you want something with a little more kick than either a Saison or something funky and sour like a Biere de Mars or even lambic.  Not a fruit one though, but a pure lambic or gueuze would be great I think.

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