Let me get to the meat of the matter, May is officially National Hamburger Month! While my family celebrates the all-American burger year ’round, I like to add some extra pizzazz to our patties during the 31 mouth-watering days of May. It’s hard to beat a spot-on, straightforward cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and pickles on a sesame seed bun. But, in this month I am satisfying the carnivorous cravings of my hungry guys (and self) with some more unique and creative takes on the humble hamburger.
One of my favorite additions to a beef hamburger is blue cheese. The food science nerd in me loves to read about umami, our fifth taste receptor that goes all happy-crazy when glutamates (an amino acid) and ribonucleotides from many meats, fish, vegetables and dairy products collide. Beef and aged cheese are two ingredients that pair really well together for a great umami experience – that’s why you often see them side by side at fancy steakhouses, along with a glass of red wine (also umami rich).
Despite their smaller “slider” size, my easy recipe for “Two Blues” Baby Burgers kicks up the flavor thanks to Blue Cheese Crumbles and yummy, satisfying beef. The second “blue” comes from the quick blueberry-barbeque sauce glaze that adds that unique sweet-spicy flavor I adore -- and it’s so simple to make, just mix together prepared BBQ sauce with blueberry jam (see recipe). Instantly Fresh Herbs, including red onion, garlic and parsley, also help make dinner preparations very convenient.
Even though I typically eat leaner cuts of beef in other dishes, I prefer to grill burgers with an 80/20 lean-to-fat grind to maximize juiciness and minimize the chances of getting a tough hockey puck on my plate. Another way to prevent dry baby sliders is to make sure you’re forming the most perfect patty possible. Instead of using a fancy burger press, I make a makeshift mold by using recycled plastic lid in a size just a little bit bigger than the buns. Line the lid with some plastic wrap and fill with even portions of ground beef. Lightly press down on the beef, but do not pack tightly – lift and repeat with the remaining ground beef. Before grilling, make a shallow thumb indention in the middle of each patty to help prevent patties from bloating in the middle and puffing up like meatballs on the grill.
These smaller-sized burgers make a great entrée for your next backyard party – there are graduation get-togethers and summer gatherings galore coming up. Enjoy!