Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's a Salad, It's a Burger . . . And It's Way More Weather Appropriate Than Chili!

I'm starting to get antsy for "real fall" (well, as real as fall gets in Texas). I ordered a bunch of oilcloth in Halloween and Thanksgiving patterns, as well as some chalkcloth and I am waiting patiently for it to arrive so I can begin hacking it to pieces (plans include tablecloths, tablerunners, placemats and bunting flags - to hang on the mantel and peg racks in the dining room). The parentals came over for dinner tonight (more on that later), and Mom brought me the latest Country Living magazine, which really got me thinking Halloween. I also recently picked up some good ideas from a blog called Over the Tipsy Top, including this adorable pumpkin centerpiece (coming soon to a table near you):

In addition to giving me an excuse to decorate everything that doesn't move (well, okay, I decorate some things that move, too), I love the fall because it's when I start cooking again. I USED to cook in the summer, pre-Ridglea membership, but now the lure of the pool is simply too strong, and we end up eating poolside the vast majority of the time. Although I certainly have enjoyed this year's sabbatical from the kitchen, I'm ready to get back into the fall groove - particularly when the weather gets a little cooler, and I can justify busting out the casserole and chili recipes. But we're not there yet, temperature-wise . . . so I was faced with a bit of a dilemma when trying to figure out what to serve the extended family for an impromptu dinner at our house. Everything that initially came to mind was "too fall"; then I started considering main dish salad options, but those seemed "too summer" to me. And so I arrived at the perfect compromise - the Bobby Flay "Chicken Cobb Burger." My parents and grandmother are big Cobb salad people, so I thought that this one might be in their wheelhouse.

I ended up using turkey instead of chicken (since ground turkey was readily available, and I didn't want to get out the meat grinder). Also, the initial plan was to make homemade sweet potato fries to go with the burgers - I had some sweet potato fries at Jake's Hamburgers not too long ago, and they were delish and reminded me how much I love them - but Super Target had unseasoned sweet potato fries in the frozen foods section that were crinkle-cut, just like Jake's, and after weighing the odds of me actually getting around to crinkle-cutting my own fries, I opted for the frozen, and incredibly cute (did I mention that they were crinkle-cut?), version. I seasoned them with a mixture of equal parts cinnamon-sugar (made with brown sugar instead of granulated) and Serendipity seasoned salt (but any variation of garlic salt would work). Sprayed on some olive oil spray, tossed them in the seasoning and baked them according to package directions. Thumbs up on those all around, so if you see McCain's sweet potato fries at your local grocery store, pick up a bag. (Glad to know that he's moved on after his loss to Barack Obama - oh, yeah, probably not the same McCain!)

Here's the recipe for the burgers. Mom chose to add a little mayonnaise to hers, but I thought that they were great as-is; the Cobb salad dressing adds just enough moisture without being too heavy.

I hope to resume posting recipes on a more regular basis - planning to experiment with a couple of Puerto Rican recipes that I tracked down after watching "Guy's Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives," and we are in the process of perfecting our queso recipe for Jimmy and Christa's queso cookoff extravaganza Labor Day Weekend!



For the burgers:

8 (1/2- thick) strips bacon
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken, 90 percent lean
2 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 burger buns, split
1 large ripe beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 8 slices

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely shredded romaine lettuce


For the burgers:

Heat the grill to medium.

Place the strips of bacon on the grill (lay them across the grate so they don't fall through) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Increase the heat of the grill to high.

Form the meat into 4 (8-ounce) burgers, brush with the oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill the burgers until golden brown on both sides and cooked completely through, about 5 minutes per side. Top the burgers with the blue cheese, close the cover, and continue cooking until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute longer.

Place the burgers on the bottom half of each bun and top with a slice of tomato, 2 slices of avocado, 2 slices of bacon and some of the dressed romaine. Cover each burger with the bun tops and serve.

For the vinaigrette:

Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and oil in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using to allow the flavors to meld.

Just before assembling the burgers, place the romaine in a medium bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.

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