Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Year's Two-For-One Special

I love when I turn on my camera (in today's case, to document the first wave of the impending blizzard, which is without a doubt a sign of the apocalypse) and find photos of a meal that I captured, then forgot about. It's exciting - except of course, when I made it so many days or weeks ago that I have no idea what went into it in the first place. So, enjoy my haphazard recreation of roast beef (the cut is anyone's guess, but you can bet it was a cheap one) with a mustardy brown sauce, broccoli, and sweet potato mash.

On the other hand, there's nothing like a January blizzard in Chicago to make you crave - and defiantly cook - summer grill food. In tonight's case, BBQ and caramelized onion turkey burgers. Or, as I affectionately call them, Turkey Burgers That Don't Totally Suck. I mean, am I the only one who sees a turkey burger on a restaurant menu and has to fight the urge to rip the menu to shreds with my steak knife? Most are dry, flavorless, and uninspired. Hopefully, my BBQ burger, featuring SmokeDaddy BBQ sauce, will give you a hankering for a patty of something other than ground chuck (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I'll just get the forgotten roast beef out of the way first, since I can't accurately list the ingredients, their approximate measurements, or how long I cooked things.


1 large piece of beef, an economical (tough) cut
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, steak rub or other dry herb mixture
olive oil and butter

Dijon mustard
brown sugar
red wine
balsamic vinegar
beef stock?
fruit preserves or chutney?

1 head broccoli, cut into pieces

1 very large sweet potato
milk, butter, salt, nutmeg

Heat butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet until foam subsides.

Season the beef on all sides with salt, pepper, and any other dry seasonings you want. (Steak rubs work well for this sort of thing.)

Sear the roast on high heat on all sides until a brown crust forms.

Make a sauce using red wine, vinegar, stock, fruit preserves,brown sugar, and mustard. I'm not kidding when I say you can just put a couple spoonfuls of each of these in a pot, heat them up and whisk them, and you will have a sauce that's pretty tasty. I don't blame you if you don't trust me, though.

Pour the sauce over the beef. Cook at 325 for about 3-4 hours. (This, by the way, is not what I did. I remember eating this beef, if not cooking it, and it was really tough. That's why, if you buy cheap, tougher cuts of meat, you should have the time on hand to roast or braise them for a long time. Trust me on this. This is why poor Italian grandmas never left the kitchen - they were braising the gristly parts of the skinny cow until it tasted just as delicious as the fatty, expensive parts.)

Boil broccoli in a pot of salted water until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook.

Add milk, butter, and nutmeg to the hot sweet potato and mix until semi-smooth and creamy.

Here's what Ross had to say about the meal (I made the wise decision to save this in my Stickies application):

"It's a 'meat and potatoes' meal for a meat and potatoes football team: broccoli - all about a tough defense. You got your gold potatoes and your black steak. Well, not black. Black and gold, like the Stillers! The sauce was what dreams are made of."

It would help to mention that we (apparently) were watching a Steelers game during dinner.

He went on to say, "The best part was one of the edge pieces. The middle wasn't that great, but I can chew through anything with my remarkably sharp incisors." What a guy.

Like I said before, just make sure you cook the beef for long enough, on a gentle enough temperature, to make it really tender. The easy weeknight way to do this would be to put it in a crockpot and leave it on low while you're at work. Crockpots, I might add, are completely underrated. 10 minutes of prep in the morning while you have your coffee, and you get to come home to a delicious hunk of meat in its own gravy.

Moving on to a different variation on the age-old hunk of meat: my BBQ Turkey Burgers That Miraculously Do Not Suck At All. Or: Further Proof That BBQ Sauce is Infallible.


1 lb. ground turkey (get the kind with a little bit of fat - I usually buy 90% lean for burgers)
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
ground cayenne pepper, a few dashes
Pam spray
sliced pepper Jack cheese
whole wheat burger buns

1 large yellow onion
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
a couple pinches sugar

BBQ sauce (I used SmokeDaddy)
mayo (unless you hate mayo)

1 head fresh broccoli

5-6 carrots, the cute kind with the green parts still attached. Why? Because I think they're better.
squeeze of honey (I used some homemade pear honey my aunt made, but the kind in the bear is just fine)
1 T. butter


Thinly slice the onions. In a nonstick skillet, heat 2 T. olive oil. Cook the onions, with a little salt and pepper, over medium heat, stirring and flipping every now and again, but not too much, until they are deeply brown. When they're about 2-3 minutes from being done, throw in the pinch of sugar to help them caramelize. Set aside and keep warm.


In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (to taste) until combined. Shape into patties and set aside.


Heat a grill pan or a nonstick skillet, with a light spray of Pam, over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers about 4-5 minutes on each side. When they're about 2 minutes form being done, place a slice of cheese on top of each and cook until burgers are cooked through (this is not the time for medium-rare burgers), and cheese is melted.


Boil some salted water and cook broccoli until it's just tender. Meanwhile, thinly slice the carrots on the bias. In a separate nonstick pan, heat 1 T. butter over medium-high heat. Saute the carrots, seasoned with a little salt, for a few minutes, then add a few tablespoons honey. Continue to cook in the honey and butter until carrots are just tender, about 5-6 minutes.


Spread some mayo (if you're going for it) and some BBQ sauce on a bun. Place a burger on top, and top with some of the caramelized onions. Serve with the carrots and broccoli. Enjoy!

I'll give this the official Fearless Cook rundown.

From Ross: "The carrots are amazing. Best carrots I've ever had. Can I have another burger?"

MY VOTE ON MY DISH: Hmmm...I give myself 8 stars. I have made turkey burgers before, but not like this. They were juicy, flavorful, and I actually didn't feel like a cow eating it - there was nothing about them that was suspect. I, too, agree that the carrots were magical. I've never been a huge fan of cooked carrots (I love them raw), but I will definitely be making them this way again. I felt like I was eating an indulgent, carby side dish, but really I was just having another veggie! If I had to change one thing, I might actually ditch the cheese (and no, I have not been abducted by aliens). Despite my cheese obsession, I have to say it didn't really add anything to the burgers. The BBQ sauce and onions were such powerful flavors that the little old slice of cheese just couldn't make himself heard.

Overall, it was a great dinner. Almost makes me forget about the snow...


Cheers to 2009! Hope it's off to a great start. Thanks for reading!

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