Saturday, March 6, 2010

Game Night!!! Duke: 82 Carolina: 50

The burgers are based on a recipe by Paulette Mitchel. It's from a book of vegetarian sandwiches. I never bought the book, but I looked at it a million times during my Barnes and Noble trips. It's a gorgeous book. She also wrote A Beautiful Bowl of Soup. Also a gorgeous book, one which I own and use often.

I don't make these burgers on a regular basis because they are actually pretty fattening, but when Duke is playing Carolina, good bar food is needed.

You will need about a cup of ground toasted walnuts. I buy the pieces, pulse them several times in the food processor, then toast them in a dry pan. I've read that walnuts should always be toasted before eating. From what I understand, they can harbor some sort of worm. I also recommend buying walnuts in bulk. Try one first. I learned this lesson today. We needed to hit up the ABC store, and Ucrops is in the same shopping center, so that is where I did my grocery shopping. I did not try the walnuts. I got home, and ew. They were rancid. So, back to Ucrops to return them, and off to Whole Foods to buy some more. The ones that are sold in the bags are always gross and never worth buying in my opinion.
Throw those in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup bread crumbs. I make my own bread crumbs much of the time, but I use store bought whole wheat bread crumbs for burgers. I think the fine course is best for patties. Two garlic cloves and about 2 tablespoons of onion- both finely minced- go in next. Chop up a tiny handful of fresh Italian parsley, then, add that along with the tiniest palm full of dried thyme (maybe like 1/2 tsp), a pinch of salt, few grinds of black pepper, and a few shakes of hot pepper flake. I'm currently obsessed with Penzey's Extra Hot Red Pepper Flakes.
In a separate tiny bowl, lightly beat an egg and add about a tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce. Add that to the dry mixture along with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.

Cottage cheese. Sorry, I have to divert from my recipe talk for a moment. I don't buy cottage cheese often. Actually, outside of needing it for these burgers, I'm not sure I ever buy it. I should once in awhile. It's damn good. As soon as I got home from the store today, I pulled out a small ramekin filled it with the curds of goodness and ground on some black pepper. One bite, and I was sitting at Grandma Phoebe's kitchen table. She'd have a paper towel folded in half, a small bowl of cottage cheese, a few saltine crackers, and a small bowl of peaches. Almost every day, this was her lunch. I could smell the house, see her there in her chair. She was beautiful, my grandmother. You could take one look at her and see her absolute strength. I love how food transports you... I love how close it can make me feel to my family.

Now, it's time to mix it all up. I use a spoon to pull it together most of the way, but your hands really are the best tool, so you just gotta get in there and get it combined. I score it in 4, and build the patties. I put them on a plate and put them in the fridge until I'm ready for them.

Time for aioli. Now, I don't make my own mayonnaise. I'd like to try one day, but when I can buy absolute perfection, I see no reason. I scoop out about a cup of Dukes into a small bowl, I add about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice- maybe a bit less? You can always add more... along with a few good grinds of black pepper. Next, I break down a garlic clove with salt. You just smash the clove with your knife, add a pinch of salt and go between mincing and smashing until it's almost a paste. The salt helps bring out the liquid of the garlic and then it breaks down... add about half of it to the mayo, stir it up and sample. If you need more garlic or lemon or pepper to balance, add. This is the only way Dukes could be improved upon.

When I'm ready for the patties, I heat up a hefty tablespoon of canola oil in a non stick skillet. You could use peanut also, but don't use evoo. Medium heat will do. Make sure it's hot (I usually put a crumb of a patty in and wait for it to sizzle.) and add the patties. They will need about 5 minutes on each side and should be golden brown. If you're stove top runs hot, like the one at my apartment, you'll need to go a bit under medium. You know your stoves. They are funny things.

That's it. I brown the bread in the pan after I remove the patties- just a tiny tiny tiny bit of butter on them to help them along. Smear a generous amount of the aioli on top and that's it. I like romaine leaves for a bit of crunch, but put whatever you like on them.

On the side- French Fries of course... what else would you eat with a burger at a bar when watching the biggest rivalry in college basketball? I won't go into great detail since I certainly did with the burgers, but here are my french fry tips.
Buy red potatoes or another type of waxy potato if you bake your fries like I do. You'll get crunchy outsides but creamy insides and in my opinion, this makes for one incredible fry. I keep the skin on. Cut them into fry shape and dry them well with a tea towel. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, dump on the potatoes and add enough evoo to coat them well. In a 400 degree oven they go. I started these way before the burgers. They need around 40 minutes. You don't need to even peek at them for 20 minutes, then, you might want to turn them- each one by hand- if you use a spatula they will break!!!
That's it. When they are golden on both sides, they are done. I put them on paper towels to get off excess oil, season with salt and ground pepper and they are ready! Of course, I ate them with ketchup AND the aioli. It's a special occasion.

While eating, Scott and I commented that our food made us feel like we were at Grey's in Greensboro- which, by the way, does indeed have the best bar food I've ever eaten. After Scott proposed to me almost a year ago, we actually sat at Grey's Tavern, had a few celebratory drinks- and watched Duke beat Carolina.

"That was one of the best games we've played all year," Krzyzewski said. "The three veterans on the perimeter really set the stage in the first half with how they passed and moved with one another. ... I think we would have been tough to beat by anybody tonight."

But, it just happened to be Carolina!!!


  1. First, let me say that I am a Tarheel fan.

    Second, your burgers look delicious. French fries, yes.

    Third, I love Duke's and lemon juice. Also good with a little basil added.

    I have never been a fan of cottage cheese, but I am willing to give it another chance. I don't recall ever eating homemade mayonnaise, but is it possible that it is tastier than Duke's? I might try it soon.

  2. Cottage cheese is great! I don't buy it enough either...a quick western PA recipe that reminds me of my grandma Longo: caramelized onions, egg noodles, a dash of salt and cottage's periogies without the potatoes!
    I'm not sure if I have tried these burgers, but it's on the list! Thanks!
    I find it funny that we both moved to NC and are fans of rival teams.

  3. Jamey- you can't even tell it's cottage cheese in the recipe, but something tells me you'd like it if you tried it again. I find the organic brands (unfortunately) not to be as good...
    I'm not sure any mayo could be better than Dukes... let me know what you discover! :)
    Amber... omg, that sounds SO good. I am making that with leftover cottage cheese.
    It IS funny that we went opposite ways in the ACC... at least we'll always see eye to eye when it comes to The Big Ten!!! We Are...

  4. Amber, that sounds tasty. Whereabouts in western PA are you from? I grew up in Connellsville.

  5. I'll field this question for Amber- Amber is from Penfield, PA and as you know I'm from Emporium. We were only about 40 minutes away from each other, but didn't meet until Penn State. She's a good one, JB and the girl knows her way around a kitchen.