Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best hamburger and homemade fries

I have been cooking most meals during N's maman's visit, which ends tonight, but as the week was progressing, the two of them, let's call them The Women, kept looking in recipe books and contemplating the perfect holiday meal. I knew my cooking time was at an end, and so when I was in charge of Christmas Eve Eve dinner, I turned the regular hamburger into a Hawaiian Hamburger Extravaganza! (These aren't particularly Hawaiian, but I needed another adjective there.)

A) 1 lb. of hamburger meat made into 5 loosely-packed hamburger patties of medium thickness. I read somewhere recently that being loosely-packed is a key to good hamburgers, because it traps all the juices.

B) The marinade:
OK, this marinade is obviously not the only possible good marinade, but I think marinating was important so you should come up with something. In a bowl, combine:

red wine vinegar
soy sauce
oyster sauce
a Tb of honey
squirt of hot sauce (Sarancha here, Tabasco would be fine)
lemon juice
garlic powder (the spices at the bottom here, N discovered a couple years ago in a recipe for lamb chops, and they work well for beef, too.)

Pour the marinade over the patties and refrigerate for a few hours, flipping at least once.

C) Prepare toppings!
Slices of 1/2 avocado
caramelized onions (I used one medium onion, cooked slowly in a bit of oil for a good 20 minutes. It is important to cook them slow with frequent stirrings or they will burn.)
Wash leaves of spinach or lettuce

D) Condiments on the table, like mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup. Also, buns on the table. My burger was really, really tall, so a squishable, regular old bun worked well.

E) Cook the hamburgers to done-ness, WITHOUT OVER COOKING, and put them on the table.


I had never done homemade fries before this meal, but I found 4 separate recipes that we all about identical and they did come out pretty decent. The key in all the recipes was to double fry everything.

A) Prepare the potatoes.

Most recipes suggest the baking Russet potatoes. We had the little red ones on hand and they worked fine. I left the skins on, except for eyes and spots, and sliced into medium sized thickness on fries.

Soak the potatoes in cold water for about an hour, changing the water one time. At the end of the hour, dry the potatoes in towels. Multiple places said that dry potatoes are a key to good fries.

B) 3" of oil in a cooking pot. Heated to 325 degrees. Again three different recipes had temperatures within 5 degrees of one another.

C) Add the fries in batches to the oil and cool for ONLY 3-4 minutes. Take the fries out with a slotted spoon. The fries should still be a boring white color. This first frying cooks the fries and makes them nice and soft. Drain the fries on paper towels.

D) Cook the fries again.

While the fries are draining, turn the oil up to 375 degrees. Nice and hot. (I had a thermometer for candy making (that I only used for candy once) that I used for taking the temp.) When the oil is hot, add the fries again for only 4-5 minutes, or until they turn a golden color. Take out with a slotted spoon again and toss with salt and garlic powder.

The fries were good, but they do take a lot of time, so I might only do once a year because it's fun to do.


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