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Posts Tagged ‘sandwiches’

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is going to be here in a flash and we recently were treated to the Summer Solstice, a day Alaskans treat with the same respect due a national holiday. This time of year Anchorage enjoys well over 19 hours of daylight — it never gets completely dark, and the prolonged twilight makes it possible to read a newspaper outdoors at 3 AM, mow the lawn, chop firewood, or do any number of other outdoor tasks. But forget about doing chores. Summer days that never end are perfect for cookouts.

This year I made a decision to craft summer burgers using my own recipes, with my own choice of meat. There will be no commercially processed “scrapburger” hamburger made from leftovers and grocery store floor sweepings of heaven-knows-what served at my home. I want to be in control of the meat.

While preparing for summer I perused recipes and ratios used by both chefs and home cooks. Chef Michael Symon went on a funny but dead-serious Facebook/Twitter tirade earlier this summer when he proclaimed that the words “turkey” and “burger” should never be used in the same sentence. A man after my own heart! Chef Symon scored additional brownie points (beefy points?) when he shared his personal tips for burgers. He said he prefers to use equal parts of brisket, sirloin, and short-rib, all coarsely ground twice and then lightly hand-packed into patties.

Fresh Ground Beefy Bacon Burger & Brew | Alaska Food & Wine

It sounded like a match made in heaven until I tried shopping for the ingredients. In my part of the world beef short-rib is at times difficult to find. When it is available it has, for some unknown reason, become frightfully expensive. Often I can find top New York steaks at a lower price than short-rib, with less waste and far more edible meat per pound. So if short-rib wasn’t an option for my meat mix, what could I add to sirloin and brisket to make my burgers juicier more flavorful? The answer hit me at breakfast one morning — bacon.

Bacon is a perennial favorite for topping burgers. Why not add it into the mix? Burgers made entirely of ground pork are listless, always in need of additional spice or toppings. But adding pork – in the form of smoked bacon – to my ground beef seemed to be the perfect answer. Bacon adds flavor. It also adds the fattiness that’s required to keep burgers juicy and keep them from hitting the Hockey Puck Pitfall.

Enjoy your burgers and the holiday!

Fresh-ground Beefy Bacon Burgers

1/2  pound beef sirloin
1/2  pound beef brisket

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Like most Alaskans I enjoy cooking and eating salmon and other seafood, but I have a confession — I crave red meat. Beef, pork, and lamb often win when I’m faced with the choice between a protein that had hooves versus one that had fins. Yes, I know some readers may deem this stance to be politically incorrect, but I am a meatetarian. It is part of my genetic makeup.

It would be easy to limit my red meat coverage to recipes that focus on high-end gourmet cuts. Who doesn’t enjoy a juicy rib steak or flavorful pork chops? (Vegetarians, you might as well stop reading now. You are unlikely to find much of interest in this essay or the recipe that follows – other than how to make a roux – but I’ll write something specifically for you in a future column. I promise.)

Yes, New York steaks and rack of lamb are delicious and a cinch to prepare, but easy preparation isn’t as interesting as perfecting the techniques needed to properly cook inexpensive or less-tender cuts of meat. Truth? The inexpensive cuts are often far more flavorful than the pricey ones, as long as they are handled with care.

Enjoy slow-braised beef brisket on a crusty kaiser roll, topped with caramelized onions, sautéed red peppers, and greens -- create a wonderful lunch from leftovers.

 
Despite being inexpensive, brisket rarely made an appearance on our table when I was growing up in the Midwest, probably because low, slow cooking methods weren’t my mother’s forte. When it did appear, it was in the sad form of thin, dry slices of beef leather. I remained convinced that I didn’t like brisket until I was well into my 20s and living in Texas. That was when I discovered how flavorful and delicious brisket can become in the hands of a knowledgeable cook.

For me, brisket was the first in a series of culinary epiphanies. The recollection of luscious, tender brisket and beef ribs lovingly slow-smoked by Goode Company Barbeque on Kirby Drive in Houston can still make me swoon, and are some of my favorite memories from my years in Texas. Ribs! Brisket! With such rich, deep-in-the-heart-of-Texas flavor, no sauce was ever needed — the meat could stand alone. Ah, but I digress.

At the risk of riling up my Texas friends and starting yet another Texas versus Alaska feud, I’m going out on a limb with this next proclamation. Great brisket can be prepared without – yes, I said without – using a smoker or barbecue grill. Yes, I hear the howls of dissent. But before you discount other methods for cooking brisket, keep in mind that I live in a place where winter can last for 7 months and temperatures can easily reach 20 below zero. Indoor cooking is easier in Alaska. Cooking is also one of the ways I keep my sanity during the long, dark months of winter.

Beef brisket, in my opinion, is one of the more misunderstood cuts of beef. To the uninitiated it appears similar to steak, a deception that tricks far too many cooks

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