(Ph)ood


Roquefort Cheese-Stuffed Burgers with Caramelized Onions on a Toasted Brioche Bun
March 25, 2011, 9:54 am
Filed under: Dinner, Red Meat | Tags: , , , , , ,

At the beginning of 2010 I told myself that I was going to create the perfect burger.  After quite a few attempts throughout January and February I had had enough red meat to last me the remainder of the year.  My stomach, and I’m sure my cholesterol, were relieved.  Although I decided to put my goal on hold did not mean I could not test and find the best burgers of the chefs/restaurants of Philadelphia.  To date, the best burgers are found at Village Whiskey, Rouge, Good Dog, Butcher & Singer, Pub and Kitchen and 500 degrees.  The best by far is at Village Whiskey.  Their signature burger, the Whiskey King, is out of this world, but even their most basic burger is fantastic.  I find the Village Whiskey and Butcher & Singer burgers to be upscale-good, but for a more neighborhood-good burger I love the Good Dog Burger.  It’s a roquefort cheese-stuffed burger with lettuce and tomato served with sweet potato fries.  It is well prepared, unique and delicious.  The personality of the burger fits with the ambiance of the Good Dog Bar – chill, relaxed and comforting.

Roquefort Cheese-Stuffed Burgers with Caramelized Onions on a Toasted Brioche Bun (adapted from Good Dog Bar and Restaurant)

Since I find the Good Dog burger so enjoyable I wanted to re-create it myself.  It’s creation in my kitchen is based on my recollection of my Good Dog experience, the small details I noticed while enjoying burgers at other places and what I have read about burgers on various blogs.  The first thing that came to my attention was the composition of the burger.  It appears that restaurants never just buy ground beef, make burger patties and then throw them on the grill.  Their meat is a combination of several cuts of beef.  I used short rib, brisket and chuck (75/25 meat-to-fat blend).  I asked the butcher at the store to ground all of these and when I returned home I mixed them together.  The second thing I learned was to minimize the amount of time you handle your meat.  I made a fairly good sized ball of meat and stuffed some Roquefort cheese in the middle. Thirdly, make the burgers 3/4 inches thick.  Fourth, using your thumb make an indentation at the center of the burger.  Doing so prevents the burger from bulging at the center and reduces the temptation to press down on the burger and consequently push the moisture  out of the meat.  Fifth, if you are preparing many burgers sear each side of each burger and just before serving put the burgers over the grill and finish cooking.  Lastly, it seemed that most burgers in the city serve their burgers on toasted brioche buns.  I did the same.  I had some trouble finding a place to buy these, but fortunately I lucked out and found some at Le Pain Quotidien.  I think in the future I will make my own brioche buns as these were smaller than I preferred.  I served these with some sweet potato fries and some cold beers.  Delicious!

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Filet Mignon with Sweet Potato Pancake, Sautéed Spinach, Blackberry and Rosemary Red Wine Reduction and Crispy Shallots
September 22, 2010, 2:16 am
Filed under: Dinner, Red Meat | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This past weekend I had some visitors: my parents and my sister.  As always, it was great to see them.  We spent plenty of time catching up and walking around the city.  In reflection of the fantastic time we had together, it seemed that many of our activities had one thing in common – eating.  Perhaps it was our subconscious reminding us that it was Philadelphia Restaurant Week or possibly it was just the fact that us Naples are keen to eating!  We went to Alma De Cuba, Parc Restaurant, Bistro & Café, Cichetteria 19, La Fontana della Citta, and Naked Chocolate Café.  Everything was incredible, but it would be hard to beat the ambiance of Parc (a French restaurant overlooking Rittenhouse Square) and the out-of-this-world food at Alma De Cuba (a Stephen Starr restaurant featuring modern Latin cuisine).  Luckily our luxurious and indulgent lifestyle did not go without punishment.  My sister, father, and I ran the Philadelphia ING® Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon.  Despite the extra weight I was carrying from all of the remarkable food, dessert, and wine I consumed, I ran a relaxed and somewhat fast race finishing in 1:26:00.  I finished feeling confident of my ability to break the elusive 3-hr barrier at my marathon next month in Mt Desert Island, Maine.  My weekend left me satisfied gastrointestinally(?), athletically as well as emotionally.  I knew I had much to be grateful for as well as much to look forward to in the future.

Leaving a weekend full of fantastic food and company created a yearning to create some of my own fantastic food.  I wanted to create something that had outstanding flavors, but while maintained my promise to keep my food simple and somewhat healthy.  So I decided to make “Filet Mignon with Sweet Potato Pancake, Sautéed Spinach, and a Blackberry and Rosemary Red Wine Reduction with Crispy Shallots” which was photographically featured on FoodPornDaily.  Additionally, I prepared a “Weaved Asparagus Salad” that was featured on The Kitchn.

Filet Mignon with Sweet Potato Pancake, Sautéed Spinach, Blackberry and Rosemary Red Wine Reduction and Crispy Shallots


The one challenge with recreating recipes from FoodPornDaily is that there are no attached recipes.  You have to take the picture they give you and figure it out yourself.  I like the challenge as I feel it will help me understand techniques and flavors through trial and error.  To understand what it would take to indulge in this incredible meal I scoured the internet reading about techniques, recipes for various components of my dish, and scrutinizing each thing I came across so as to understand the success and failures of each technique and recipe.  After a couple hours understanding the required ingredients and techniques I made my shopping list and traveled to Reading Terminal Market to get the majority of my needs.  I was greeted at the market by a small crowd and quite a bit of police officers who were eagerly awaiting President Obama to walk out with his four cheesesteaks and apples in tote.  Turns out he got quite the deal on his items as he personally only paid $1.  My groceries were not quite as cheap, but nonetheless quite the deal relative to the horrible selection found at smaller markets throughout the city.  On my way home I picked up my filets from Di Bruno Brothers.  This is what I came home with:

I minced, diced, and grated my way to beginning the actual cooking.  Based on my reading, I began my red wine reduction by combining and heating olive oil, rosemary, shallots, garlic, blackberry preserves, blackberries, Cabernet Sauvignon, beef broth and red wine vinegar.  I brought it to a boil and allowed it to reduce over 20-30 minutes.  I then strained my sauce and set it aside as I prepared the rest of the meal.

The Sweet Potato Pancake was very easy to make.  I simply grated one sweet potato, one russet potato, added some flour, a couple eggs, Italian parsley and mixed.  I made four patties and cooked them in a little olive oil.

The sauteed spinach was even easier and consisted of 1.5 lbs of spinach and a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.

Finally, plate the four components and top with crispy shallots.  To make the shallots, slice the shallots into thin rings, rinse with water, pat dry, cover with flour and immerse them at cooking oil heated to 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes.  I unfortunately failed to pay attention to my temperature and did not do a very good job with my shallots.  They were too crispy for extensive photography!  We enjoyed this dish wish some wine followed by warm apple pie and coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Weaved Asparagus Salad

To make this salad, blanch the asparagus in salted water for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water.  Using a mandolin, slice the asparagus in 1/4 inch slices.  This will hopefully reveal an array of white and green colors (My “array of colors” was a little disappointing).  Weave 10 asparagus slices on a place and top with olive oil, lemon juice, shaved parmesan, freshly ground black pepper and salt.