We have always loved a good hamburger. And seemingly every establishment offers one version or another. So preparing burgers at home never became much of an option, nor something to showcase.

And then the burger craze went full time. After many, many sad variations, a few decent, and really nothing excellent - we finally decided to take matters into our own hands (home). Reading every article, consulting with every chef and butcher we know, we believe we created the most delicious burger available anywhere. (hmm... maybe we should open a burger joint - nah, to trendy) 

And what would be a burger with french fried potatoes? Quite frankly, it would be insulting. So with this perfect burger, we set about to creat the perfect fry. PLEASE NOTE: This is not a healthy recipe, nor suggested for daily consumption. Enjoy all things in life with moderation.

First the meat. The principle in all meat (specifically burgers), is fat content vs. protein.
Picture
Perfectly ground beef. 80% - 20%
As seen in the picture above, the small white particles - clearly visible - are fat. While most of this cooks off almost immediately upon hitting the cooking surface, a fair amount remains to give the burger juice and flavor.

The next, and we believe the very most important and often overlooked step, is the actual handling of the meat. First we buy the freshest, all natural chuck roast. Look for excellent marbling, and good color. Next we proceed to grind the meat at home almost immediately prior to cooking. We use a Kitchen Aid meat grinder, but most any will do. Make sure all equipment is cooled down in the refrigerator first.

Now please remember once the meat comes out of the grinder - DO NOT OVER HANDLE. We use an 8 oz commercial style patty maker on which we place a round ball of meat - BARELY FORMED INTO A BALL WITH YOUR HANDS. Again, the goal here is disturb the meat as least as possible between grinder and grill. Almost all store bought ground meat is handled, handled, and handled again - giving it no chance to remain tender and delicate. The trick to the most perfect burger is to barely handle the meat at ALL. This will create a light, tender, and juicy patty - one that can hardly ever be replicated in food service, but can be easily accomodated at home.

So to review, we use an 8 oz patty maker that creates a burger about 3/4 of an inch thick and should be cooked to a warm red center. We grind the meat as close to preparation time as possible, and we cook on an extremely hot surface to a medium rare temperature.  Our choice of sides always includes carmelized onions and mushrooms, crips lettuce, ripe tomato, and homemade dill pickle slices. And never EVER forget the most important two toppings - BACON and CHEESE. Thick sliced Nueskes Bacon, and Kraft American Cheese slices are the go to favorites in our house.

And now comes the fry. Again we must prepare these from scratch to ensure the best result. Start with Russet Idaho Potatoes - preferrably organic if possible, and use a fry cutter that makes 1/4" square fries. Soak several times in cold water to wash off starches, and then blanch first in canola oil at a temperature of about 275 degrees F for about 4-6 minutes. Drain on parchment paper, and turn oil up to 365 degrees F. Now drop the fries in again for about the same amount of time, or until cooked a nice golden brown. Drain, toss with kosher salt and chopped Italian parsley then serve immediately.

Delicious.
 
 
Picture
We love the winter months if for one thing only: Braising. When else can you create a one pot comfort food sensation, and warm the whole house at the same time?

Today we have taken the classic bourguignon preparation and substituted chicken thighs for the beef. Some may call this Coq Au Vin, but we like bacon, so we like bourguignon. Most everything else stays the same, but instead of egg noodles, we used mashed potatoes. As always, we suggest using thighs instead of any other cut - they remain moist, and soak up all of the good flavors.

Serves 2-4. Prep time, 30 mins, cooking time 2.5 hours.

Ingredients

2-3 lbs of Chicken thighs, trimmed
4 Large Carrots
1 lb of Mushrooms, Wild preferred, sliced
4 slices of Thick cut Bacon, Diced
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1 Bch of Fresh Italian Parsley
1 tbsp of Tomato Paste
4 tbsp of Flour
750ml Red Wine, inexpensive
1/2 cup Brandy or Cognac
1 Tsp of brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 tbsp of butter, no salt
2 tbsp of Heavy Cream
2 Cups of Beef Stock, high quality

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat large dutch oven, and add bacon. Stir occasionally, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside and remove all but 2 tblsp of bacon grease. Generously salt and pepper thighs and then coat with flour. 

Brown thighs in bacon grease on both sides; about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. 

Deglaze pan with Brandy, scraping up all browned bits from the bottom. When reduced by half, set aside by pouring on top of chicken. 

Add one tblsp of bacon grease back to the pan (or olive oil) and sweat the onion, one (1) diced carrot, the thyme, and the garlic; about 3 minutes.  Set aside with meat. 

Now sautee the mushrooms with 2 tbsp of butter until most moisture as been removed.  Set aside.
 
Add entire bottle of wine  and tomato paste to pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add broth and repeat. Return vegetables (except for mushrooms) and chicken to the liquid, and cover the pot and place into the oven for 1.5 - 2 hours. 

Remove pot from oven, and remove chicken to the side and cover with foil. Strain remaining liquid by removing all solids, add remaining 3 carrots sliced, the sauteed mushrooms and reduce on stove by half. Add remaining 2 tbsp of butter, sugar, and cream and bring to a simmer.
 
Serve with mashed potatoes, and crusty bread. Spoon sauce generously over chicken and include carrots and mushrooms. Garnish with chopped parsley.   
 

 
 
mmmm...BACON
Cheesey Cheese
This is our favorite recipe ever found. It uses our favorite ingredient, Bacon, and three kind of cheeses. This takes a heck of a lot longer than Mac n' Cheese out of the box, but thanks to the Pioneer Woman Cooks, we can make creamy, cheesy, Bacony "heaven on earth".

....Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions.