FROM the backyard barbecue to the tables of some of the finest restaurants across the country, the burger is a â€œhotâ€ item on menus and at mealtime. This season, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts instructors are putting a new spin on the traditional burger. Grilling up a burger doesnâ€™t have to be limited to lettuce and tomato any more.
â€œWith 85 percent of Americans saying they eat burgers once a month or more, we know that they can enjoy putting a twist on an old favorite,â€ said Chef Edward Leonard, certified master chef and Le Cordon Bleu executive chef. â€œOur goal is to make it easy to experiment with new ingredients that can make ordinary into extraordinary. When it comes to creating your own, donâ€™t be afraid to mix it up and combine a variety of ingredients that appeal to you.â€
Before you head out to the grill, browse the farmersâ€™ market or grocery store to get inspiration from fresh produce. If you are looking for something spicy, try adding fresh jalapeÃ±os or cayenne pepper to your patties. If you like sweet and salty combinations, grill up some pineapple and add teriyaki sauce.
â€œThe toppings and seasoning of a burger play a big role in the overall taste,â€ said Chef Leonard, â€œbut if they arenâ€™t grilled properly, chances are it wonâ€™t turn out well.â€ Preparing burgers for the grill can be a critical step to ensure they turn out juicy and delicious. When selecting meat, purchase the freshest meat to achieve the best taste. Before placing burgers on the grill, heat it up and brush the grates with olive oil. This will prevent the burgers from sticking. When grilling the patties, do not press down with a spatula. This squeezes the juices out and can result in a dry burger.
Once the burgers are cooked, the real fun begins. Chef Leonard suggests creating a Mediterranean lamb burger to wow your guests.
â€œFor those who have a passion for cooking and want to create more mouthwatering food, I suggest checking out the Le Cordon Bleu Chefâ€™s Series,â€ said Chef Leonard. â€œOur 16 campuses across the country hold monthly, hands-on classes where food enthusiasts can experience a class with a professional instructor.â€
Mediterranean Lamb Sliders
1 cup coarsely chopped red bell peppers that have been grilled or broiled until charred and then skinned and seeded
1 finely chopped sweet Walla Walla onion
Â½ cup coarsely chopped, pitted, kalamata olives
Â½ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
the juice of one lemon
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1Â½ lb. lean ground lamb
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Â¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Â½ tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp finely minced garlic
salt and cracked pepper to taste
Â½ cup crumbled feta
Heat grill to medium-high heat. Prepare the relish: In a small serving bowl, stir together the peppers, onion, thyme, olives, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
Prepare the burgers: In a large bowl, gently mix together the lamb, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, garlic, salt and black pepper. Form into 8 mini burgers, flatten to about Â¾ inch thick, and gently press your thumb in the center of each to help cook evenly.
Grill or panfry the burgers carefully for about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. A few minutes before they are done, top with feta and finish cooking to melt. Note: The fat in lamb can cause flare-ups. Serve on lightly grilled soft mini buns, topped with the relish.
Makes 8 mini burgers.
To learn more about Le Cordon Bleu, visit www.chefs.edu. (NAPSI) â–