Sunday, June 3, 2007

And we're back.

So sorry for the absence, folks, especially this early in the game.

Let's cut to the chase, then.

When I read Mark Bittman's piece on making your own burgers at home I decided to see if our food processor could take it. It came as an attachment with a blender I bought on eBay, and I would describe both as "needy." Where most food appliances of their nature obediently, even cheerfully do as they're told, my blender and food processor tend to whine and defy my every order unless I give the contents a lot of gentle prodding with a spoon. So I was a little apprehensive about grinding two pounds of pork shoulder for these stuffed pork burgers I made, but it turned out pretty good.

Stuffed Pork Burgers with Cast-Iron Skillet Corn
adapted from The Minimalist's Garlicky Pork Burgers and Inside-Out Lamburgers

For the burgers
2 lbs. pork shoulder (it may be called "pork butt roast," a term that always makes me snicker like the twelve-year-old boy I am inside, but it doesn't actually come from the butt)

7 cloves garlic

8 oz. monterey jack cheese, grated

half a bunch of chives

salt and pepper to taste

a large skillet to fry the burgers once they're formed or, if you're lucky, a grill

For the corn
1 bag frozen Trader Joe's sweet corn (not the roasted kind)

2 shallots

a good knob of butter

salt and pepper to taste

the other half of the bunch of chives

a cast iron skillet

kitchen shears

1. Leave the bag of frozen corn out to thaw while you prep the other ingredients. Wash and dry chives and mince fine. I like to use kitchen shears for this, since my chef's knife often needs sharpening. Trim, peel and mince the shallots into a fine dice. Set aside.

2. Mix half of the minced chives with the monterey jack cheese in a small bowl. Peel and mince the garlic and set aside.

3. Using kitchen shears, a proper knife, or really anything that won't slip out of your hands and kill you or any cats lurking hopefully at your feet, chop the pork shoulder into small chunks roughly 1/2" to an 1" cubed. In the food processor (I did this in two batches) grind the pork with the garlic, salt and pepper by pulsing on high until the meat is the consistency you want. Now, this is the tricky part. You don't want the grind to be too coarse, or the fat won't incorporate evenly into the mince, but you also don't want a porky paste. A happy medium is what we're going for.

4. Heat the cast iron skillet and the large skillet on medium to medium high heat. To form the burgers, take a handful of pork, shape it into a rough patty around 1/3" thick and form a shallow well in the center. Pat in a lump of the cheese and chive mixture (in the future, I will separate the cheese into the amount that I want in each burger so that if I run out of meat before cheese I won't contaminate the remainder) and cover with more pork, pressing the edges so the cheese won't leak out. Repeat until you run out (I made eight patties).

5. Fry the burgers in the large skillet. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the cast iron. Once the foaming has subsided, add the shallots. When the shallots are soft, Add the corn, stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate everything evenly, and keep an eye on it while you oversee the burgers. This is a very low maintenance side dish. Basically you're just stirring it from time to time to keep the kernels from burning. Once the corn is golden-brown and caramelized, add the chives and cook until they've softened but not lost their vibrant color.

6. Serve burgers plain or on soft rolls with a good mustard.

Makes roughly eight patties.


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SteamyKitchen said...

I finally got my first ever cast iron skillet. I can't believe I've never owned one before! Its still a virgin, newly seasoned, but my kids would love if I made the corn for dinner tonight.