The cooking magazines have been putting out their best summer recipes lately. I've been pulling lots of them to keep to try, as is my bad habit. Now that I'm not employed full time, I have been cracking down and making them instead of grabbing the occasional dinner at one of my neighborhood places.
So, yesterday, when I was craving a burger, I pulled out a page from Bon Appetit's July issue. In it, they had a tip for filling the meat with a slab of compound butter, or butter mixed with herbs and seasonings. Serving steak with a melting pat of butter mixed with flavorings is not unusual in a restaurant but to make this at home seemed to me to be an interesting twist.
Then I recalled the few times my mother had done the same thing when I was a child. She'd fill the inside of a hamburger with a caper-dotted round of butter. I loved that briny taste when I bit into the meat. I guess the other siblings didn't like it because I don't remember it being served except for a few times.
I decided that I wanted to try to make these myself. Fortunately, Whole Foods had had hamburger on special a week or so ago, and in my new economy, I had picked up some. I also had some garlic ramp butter in the freezer that I'd made a few months back when those items were in season. It was an experiment to see if these two things would go together. I followed the instructions on the page and proceeded to cook the burger as I would normally.
The end result was nothing short of wonderful. As I chewed my first bite, the most luscious flavors coated my tastebuds. This was burger luxury. There was a deepness to the meet that wasn't normally there. I think this must be because the butter (which had the ramps, salt, and pepper in it) seasoned the meat from the inside out so that there was a sort of basting going on while it was cooking. It sounds a bit weird and complicated, but you really need to try this. I'm not sure I'll ever eat a burger cooked anyway else from now on.
The juices themselves were amazing, too. I kept sopping them up with the bun so as not to lose any of the meaty-buttery flavors. Something like this, however, needs a good counterpart to stand up to its luxuriousness. I found what I wanted in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, which also enabled me to use up some other ingredients lingering in my fridge.
The Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts let me use up the last of the zucchini hanging around in my crisper drawer. I know that, as we are just at the start of the season, there will be more of those vegetables coming into my home so I'm always looking for new ways to prepare them. Instead of getting fresh basil, I decided to chuck in a cube of last season's pesto that I had saved in ice cube trays. That way, I can clear out space for some from this year's crops.
The salad was a crunchy, tangy, tasty counterpart to the richness of the burger. It was also kind of fun to eat the long ribbons, and it was very different from the usual potato salad or coleslaw accompaniment. I had to grate the parmesan over it, using my handy Alessi grater, as I couldn't manage to shave the cheese. That will be something to try for next time in addition to putting the recipe together the way the instructions actually say to do it. This was a great new summer lunchtime meal to add to my collection.