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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the week: Beef Burger with Herbed Butter Core and Caramelized Onions

Jul 22, 2011

Makes 4 burgers

This recipe won the burger category at the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in Whistler, British Columbia, in the summer of 2003. More than a burger, it is the Atkins equivalent of a jelly doughnut (if you forego the bun). It’s a life-shaping experience that should probably be accompanied by some kind of parental guidance message. Be careful to whom you serve this—your guests may stalk you until you cook it for them again.

11/2 to 2 lb | 750 g to 1 kg of ground beef, 20 percent fat content

1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly grated nutmeg

4 1/2-inch | 1 cm discs of frozen Mediterranean Herbed Butter (see following recipe)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL Dijon mustard

Your favorite barbecue rub

4 hamburger buns

extra softened Herbed Butter for the buns

granulated garlic

1/2 cup | 125 mL chèvre (a creamy white French-style

goat cheese), at room temperature

2 large roasted red bell peppers, torn into quarters

Caramelized Onions (see following recipe)

Combine the beef and nutmeg in a large nonreactive bowl. Mix together the spice and the meat lightly with your hands, being careful not to overwork it. Split the meat into 4 equal portions and roll it into balls. Poke your thumb in the middle of each ball to create a hole and insert a frozen disc of herbed butter. Encase the butter in the burger as you shape it into a classic burger shape about ¾-inch | 2 cm thick, ensuring that there are no openings where molten butter could run out. (It may be helpful to dip your hands periodically into cold water to prevent the meat from sticking to them.)

            Coat the burger patties lightly with the mustard and sprinkle them with a light coating of the rub. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Either spray the burgers with vegetable oil spray, or coat the grill with oil. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the patties become firm, but not hard, to the touch.

            Remove the burgers from the grill, tent them with foil, and let them rest for 4–5 minutes. In the meantime, coat the buns with the softened herbed butter, sprinkle them with a little granulated garlic, and toast them for 30–60 seconds on your grill.

            Dress the burgers with a slather of goat cheese, a piece or two of roasted red pepper, and a dollop of caramelized onion. Inhale. (Note: Warn your guests that the burgers have a molten filling or they could be in for a shock! In any case, have plenty of napkins at the ready. These are very juicy burgers.)

Caramelized Onions

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL

This makes a great topping for burgers but is also an excellent all-purpose condiment. Try it as an omelet filling or as a topping for grilled pork chops. Mix it with goat cheese and spread it on crackers for a tangy, sweet appetizer. It’s also a great topping on a planked round of brie.

2 Tbsp | 25 mL butter, olive oil, or a combination of both

4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into rings

1/2 tsp | 2 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL sugar

1/2 tsp | 2 mL ground cinnamon

pinch cayenne

Heat the butter/olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté them until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to sauté the onions, stirring them regularly, until they are shiny and brown, about 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them (add a little water, if necessary,  to prevent burning).

Mediterranean Butter

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,

basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,

tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)

1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.

            If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.