Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Buffalo Burger with Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Smoked Provolone and Gaufrette Potatoes

     An American Bison Burger With Gourmet Cheese And A Highly Prized Mushroom! 
     Buffalo is also known as American Bison.  Buffalo are a great plains animal that were cruelly hunted to the point of extinction by railroad companies in the late 1800's.
     Buffalo are now free range ranch managed livestock and these animals have been brought back from the verge of extinction.  Ranchers now raise and breed buffalo with care.  Much of the buffalo that is sold in Las Vegas comes from Native American free range ranches in New Mexico.  Some comes from Colorado and Utah.
     Why is buffalo and wild game in demand?  Health!  Free range wild game is not raised with drugs and artificial feed.  Wild game is not force fed.  Wild game like free range buffalo is lean and mean!  When eating a diet of wild game, cholesterol levels will be reduced.  The body and mind feels sharp, alive and healthy!

     Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms can be found in forests worldwide.  These cluster shelf mushrooms grow at the base of trees.  Hen Of The Woods are best when smaller ones are harvested because when they are large, these mushrooms can be tough and chewy.
     Hen Of The Woods is now a common cultivated mushroom.  Hen Of The Woods is called Maitake in Japan.  Many specialty food markets sell farm raised Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms by the name Maitake, because the Japanese name commands a higher price.
     The best deal on Maitake can actually be found at Asian food markets, because the volume of sales is higher.  Many Americans are conservative about trying unheard of food, but this definitely is not the case with shoppers at a busy large food market in a place like Chinatown, Las Vegas.  In Chinatown, exotic food is the norm!
     Hen Of The Woods is a very rich tasting mushroom and it has many health benefits.  Hen Of The Woods has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin.  It also helps to control both serum and liver lipids.   This mushroom helps regulate cholesterol and it is also beneficial for weight loss.  The nutritional value is high, like any edible mushroom.  Hen Of The Woods is a also a pretty looking  mushroom when presented as a component of an entrée!

     Some specialty food markets sell cheese wheel end scraps.  The scraps ends usually weigh only a couple of ounces apiece.  Those who like to try an unheard of gourmet cheese can do so for a nice low price when sorting through a selection of cheese end pieces.
     I actually found one small piece of a very high quality Smoked Provolone that was made by local California cheese maker.  Smoked Provolone is perfect with a Bison Burger and Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms!
     Gaufrette Potato Preparation & Mandolin Technique:
     Gaufrette potatoes are potatoes that are cut with a French Mandolin, so they look like waffle potato chips.  French Mandolins are notorious for creating severe cuts and skin grafts from the tips of fingers!  A Mandolin is a dangerous kitchen tool to use.
     A trick that I learned is to wear steel sewing thimbles over the tips of the thumbs and fingers.  A latex kitchen glove will hold all of the thimbles in place.  The thimbles will keep the fingers from being cut, if a finger slips and makes contact with the Mandolin blade!
     • The potato does not have to be peeled.
     • About 1/2 of a peeled large russet potato is needed for 1 portion of Gaufrette Chips.
     • To make gaufrette potatoes, the potato is stroked on an 1/8" crinkle cut blade.
     • The crinkle blade has to be set to a depth of 1/16" to 1/8".  Usually the first strokes require zeroing the blade in, so the waffle effect is pronounced on each potato slice.
     • After each time the potato passes the blade, the potato must be turned at a 90º angle, to achieve the waffling effect each time the potato passes through the blade.  By turning the potato back and forth 90º each time a slice is cut, it is easy to make a pile of perfect Gaufrette Potatoes.
     *If you do not have a French Mandolin, then just thin slice a potato like regular potato chips. 
     *This entire recipe yields 1 large burger platter!

     Gaufrette Potatoes: 
     Step 1:  Use a Mandolin to cut 1/2 of a large russet potato into Gaufrette slices.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360º.
     Fry the gaufrette potatoes in small batches, so they do not stick together.
     Fry the chips, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 3:  Use a fryer net to place the chips on wire mesh roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt over the chips.
     Set the chips aside and try not to eat them all before the entrée is served!  Gaufrette Potatoes are slightly addictive to munch!

     Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushroom:
     Step 1:  A cluster of Hen Of The Woods that is the size of a large handful (about 1 cup) is needed for this recipe.
     Trim off the thick stem end at the base of the cluster.
     Gently use your fingers to separate and tear the Hen Of The Woods Mushroom into small florets.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add the Hen Of The Woods Mushroom florets.
     Sauté the mushrooms, till they start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 small pinch of marjoram.
     Sauté till brown highlights start to appear on the edges of the mushrooms.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry.
     Simmer and reduce, till most of the sherry has evaporated.
     Take the pan off the heat and keep it warm on a stove top.

     Buffalo Burger with Sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Smoked Provolone and Gaufrette Potatoes:
     Buffalo is very lean and it will be tough if it is overcooked.  A medium rare to medium finish temperature is best.
     Step 1:  Shape 8 ounces of ground American Bison into large burger patty shape.
     Season the burger with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Split a large burger bun in half.
     Brush the bun with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the burger bun on a cast iron griddle over medium/medium low heat, till it is toasted.
     Keep the burger bun warm on a stove top.
     Keep the griddle hot for the buffalo burger.
     Step 3:  Place about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on the griddle.
     Place  the buffalo burger on the griddle.
     Grill the burger on both sides, till it is cooked almost medium rare.
     Step 4:  Place a few thin slices of smoked provolone cheese on the burger.
     Pour about 1 ounce of water on the griddle by the burger and immediately cover the burger with a domed lid or a stainless steel mixing bowl.  The steam will soften and partially melt the cheese after about 10 to 15 seconds.
     Remove the lid.

     Use a spatula to place the buffalo burger on the toasted bun and set it on a plate.
     Place the warm sherried Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms on top of the smoked provolone cheese.
     Lean the top of the burger bun against the burger, so the mushrooms can be seen.
     Place a mound of the gaufrette potato chips on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig and a pickle of your choice.
     No accompanying sauces or condiments are needed.

     This is by far one of my favorite gourmet burger creations! 

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