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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the week: Thai Beef Burgers, Wakefield Inn Oyster Burger and Easy Alabama Potato Salad

Jul 27, 2012

These recipes (except the potato salad) are from my cookbook, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, now available as an iBook from the Apple iTunes store. Check it out!

Thai-flavored Beef Burgers with Sautéed Shiitakes

Makes 4 burgers

For the burger mix:
11/2 lb | 750 g ground beef chuck
(80 percent lean)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped fresh
Thai or Italian basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lime juice
2 tsp | 10 mL fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp | 5 mL grated or finely chopped
lime zest
1 tsp | 5 mL grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp | 2 mL freshly ground
black pepper

For the mushrooms:
3 Tbsp | 45 mL unsalted butter
2 Tbsp | 25 mL canola or peanut oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp | 10 mL grated fresh ginger
8 oz | 250 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems
removed, cut into 1/4-inch | 5 mm slices
few drops sesame oil
1/4 tsp | 1 mL kosher salt
1/4 tsp | 1 mL freshly ground black pepper

To finish the burgers:
4 hamburger buns, lightly buttered and
sprinkled with granulated onion
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame seeds

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Gently mix the burger ingredients in a large bowl with your hands, taking care not to overwork the meat. Wet your hands with cold water and shape the mixture into 4 patties about 3/4 inch | 2 cm thick. Cover them and refrigerate them for at least 1/2 hour or up to 4 hours.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. While the grill is heating, prepare the mushrooms. Melt the butter with the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the shallot and ginger. Add the mushrooms and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender, 4–6 minutes. Add the sesame oil, salt, and pepper and mix them in thoroughly. Set the mushrooms aside and keep them warm.
            Brush the burger patties with oil and grill them over direct medium heat for 4–5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F | 71˚C. Remove them from the heat. Grill the buns for 30–60 seconds, butter side down, until they’re nicely toasted. Serve the hot burgers on the toasted buns, topped with the mushrooms and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

The Wakefield Inn Oyster Burger

Makes 4 burgers

Years ago the Wakefield Inn, a pub on BC’s Sunshine Coast, invented the ultimate burger —and it’s not grilled. To get the right texture, you need to pan-fry the oysters. The Wakefield Inn used seasoned flour to coat the oysters, but I prefer the extra crunch of cornmeal. Serve the burger with a dill pickle, a dollop of Easy Alabama Potato Salad (see recipe below), and a big mug of cold beer. Sadly, the Wakefield Inn has fallen to a condo developer’s wrecking ball and all that’s left is the great view, and this recipe.

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 tsp | 5 mL ground ancho chiles
1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup | 125 mL cornmeal
1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter
1 Tbsp | 15 mL olive oil
12 medium-sized fresh West Coast oysters, pre-shucked (you can buy them in tubs)
4 burger buns, toasted and buttered
4 Tbsp | 60 mL commercial tartar sauce
1 bunch green leaf lettuce
4 slices crisply cooked bacon
1 thinly sliced ripe tomato
pickle slices and parsley sprigs, for garnish

Combine the cumin, ground ancho, pepper, and cornmeal in a small bowl and pour the mixture onto a dinner plate. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is sizzling. Lightly coat the oysters in the cornmeal mixture and fry them in the oil and butter until they’re crisp on the outside and done inside, 2–3 minutes per side.
            Spread 1 Tbsp | 15 mL of tartar sauce on each toasted and buttered bun. Add a leaf or two of lettuce, 3 of the fried oysters, one crispy slice of bacon (ripped in half), and 1 or 2 slices of tomato. Sprinkle the works with salt and pepper. Top with the other half of the bun, and garnish with a pickle and a parsley sprig.

Easy Alabama Potato Salad

Makes 8 servings

I once met a nice woman from Alabama on a plane, and I quizzed her on what she and her family liked to eat in the summertime. She shared this quick, pantry-based recipe for a potato salad that’s bound to bring back memories of happy times for anyone. I’ve added a favorite ingredient, toasted pecans, to give it some extra crunch.

3 lb | 1.5 kg yellow-fleshed potatoes
1/2 red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 Tbsp | 15 mL green hot dog relish
1 Tbsp | 15 mL prepared mustard
1 tsp | 5 mL sugar
1 tsp | 5 mL white vinegar
sweet paprika and chopped chives or green onion for garnish
1/2 cup | 125 mL toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a large pot of cold salted water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes, uncovered, for 10–15 minutes, until they are almost done. Drain them and let them cool to room temperature.

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add the red onion. Combine the mayo, relish, mustard, sugar, and vinegar in a large bowl. Toss the dressing with the potatoes. Transfer the salad to a serving dish and garnish it with a dusting of paprika, a sprinkling of chopped chives or green onion, and the chopped pecans, if desired.