Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Herb Crusted Burger with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Stilton Cheese

     Gourmet Burgers!
     Gourmet hamburgers have returned as a trendy food craze in recent years.  There are many cutting edge restaurants in Las Vegas that offer gourmet hamburgers on the menu.  At many of these restaurants the focus is primarily on the choice of meat.
     Selecting a top grade of beef or wild game for a gourmet burger is a good place to start.  Currently the most popular choices are Angus Beef, Prime Grade Beef, Wagyu, Kobe and Ground Turkey.  American Bison is at the top of the wild game burger meat option list and Ground Elk is not far behind.  The general public still is kind of skittish about trying tasty exotic burger meats like alligator, kangaroo and ostrich.
      It seems like the best gourmet burgers either incorporate an irresistible flavor combination or the list of ingredients supports an overall theme.  Hubert Keller's Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay is a good place to experience Las Vegas style gourmet burgers that have a creative theme.  The Rossini Burger is modeled after the French Haute Cuisine entrée Tornados Rossini and this classic gourmet burger certainly is decadent!  The Burger Bar even offers a Chocolate Burger and a Cheesecake Burger on the dessert menu!
     Hubert Keller's Fleur Restaurant is famous for being the home of the most expensive burger in Las Vegas.  Kobe beef, foi gras and black truffle gives one hamburger offering a price that lists at about $35 on the menu.  An accompanying bottle of a fine vintage chateau liquor is what gives this gourmet burger a $5,000 sticker price.
     Even the franchise chain burgers are famous in Las Vegas.  In-n-Out burgers is an old fashioned franchise that offers nothing but fresh food.  Fresh ground beef is the key to their success.  The french fries are cut from fresh potatoes to order too.  Fatburger is rated as the best burger stand in Los Angeles and Las Vegas year after year and they also cook all their food to order.  There are very few franchise burger stands that can even come close to the quality of the burgers at In-n-Out or Fatburger.
     As one can see, the level of burger competition high in Las Vegas and there is a reason why.  Las Vegas is the reigning burger capitol of the world.  Every year, more burgers are sold in Vegas than at any other city.

     Today's gourmet burger recipe focuses on an irresistible flavor combination and there really is no overall theme.  The gourmet burger trend of the late 1970's and 1980's focused only on good beef burgers with a fancy topping.  Today's recipe is made along those guidelines.
     The burger in today's recipe is crusted with French herbs.  The sun dried tomatoes and Stilton Cheese topping combines with the herb crusted burger to create an awesome flavor that fans of classic bleu cheese varieties will surely enjoy.    
     Sun Dried Tomatoes: 
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large burger.
     It is important to fully reconstitute the sun dried tomatoes or they will be unpleasantly chewy.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 5 or 6 sun dried tomato halves.
     Gently simmer the sun dried tomatoes, till they are soft and tender.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes.
     Step 3:  Return the soft sun dried tomatoes to the sauce pot.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Season with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Gently warm the sun dried tomatoes till they become aromatic.
     Keep the sun dried tomatoes warm on a stove top.
     Herb Crusted Hamburger Patty:
     This recipe yields 1 large burger patty.  (8 ounces)
     Fresh or dried herbs can be used for this recipe.  Herb crusted burgers are best when they are grilled in a pan or on a ribbed cast iron griddle.  Cooking an herb crusted burger over an open flame will burn the herbs.  
     Lean ground beef for a hamburger is somewhere between 85% to 89% fat free.  If the ground beef is over 93% fat free, the burger will not be juicy.
     Step 1:  Place these herbs and spices in a mixing bowl:
     - 1/2 tablespoon of marjoram
     - 1 teaspoon of thyme
     - 1 teaspoon of tarragon
     - 1 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence
     - 1/2 tablespoon of basil
     - 1/2 tablespoon of oregano
     - 1 pinch of garlic powder
     - 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
     Mix the herbs together.
     Spread the herb mix evenly on a pie tin and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Use a ring mold to shape 8 ounces of lean ground beef into a hamburger patty.
     Season the burger patty on both sides with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Place the burger patty on the herb mixture in the pie tin.
     Flip the burger patty in the herbs to coat both sides.
     Gently press the herbs onto the surface of the burger.
     Step 4:  Refrigerate the burger patty for 20 minutes, so the herbs impart their flavor.
     Herb Crusted Hamburger with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Stilton Cheese:
     This recipe yields an 8 ounce gourmet burger!
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Brush a hamburger roll with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the burger roll, till it is toasted golden brown.
     Step 2:  Place the burger roll on a plate.
     Place some mixed baby lettuce leaves on the bottom half of the bun.
     Place a few thin slices of onion on the lettuce.
     Set the "burger set up plate" aside.
     Step 3:  Leave the griddle on medium heat.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil on the hot griddle.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the herb crusted burger on the griddle.
     Grill the burger on both sides, till it is cooked to the preferred finish temperature.
     *Be sure to flip the burger a few times, so it cooks evenly and so the herbs do not scorch!
     Step 4:  Place the softened sun dried tomatoes on top of the burger.
     Place a few thin slices of imported English Stilton Cheese on top of the sun dried tomatoes.
     Step 5:  Pour 1 ounce of water on the griddle around the burger.
     Immediately cover the burger with a dome shaped pot lid.
     Allow the steam to melt the Stilton Cheese.  (This takes about 45 seconds.)
     Step 6:  Remove the dome lid.
     Use a spatula to place the herb crusted hamburger on the burger bun on the "set up plate."
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and assorted pickles.
     *Persian pickled wild cucumber, roasted red pepper strips and Arabic scratched green olives are the garnish in the photos above.
     Stilton is an aged sharp bleu cheese that tastes great with the rich flavor of sun dried tomatoes.  This is a delicious gourmet burger creation!                    

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