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.
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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.
 
 
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Falling off the Bone, Perfect Smoky Colors - TFL
Usually smoking and bbqing (not grilling) are best left to the professionals. To really create the perfect smoking environment takes real wood, patience, and usually a seasoned brick pit. But do not be dismayed, for with a little rigging of your traditional grill, you too can create delicious smoked food. This can be prepared on a gas grill (our choice) or charcoal. Temperature control is key, and can be more difficult on charcoal. 

Today we will be using our favorite cut of meat, the halved chicken. You can usually find these in your grocery store coolers, or you can simply cut a whole chicken in half, removing the backbone. The other secret is brining. We like to always brine our chicken - even if it is only for a few hours and sometimes up to 24. Then just let the smoke go low and slow over the meat, and a couple of hours later we have delicious and tender smoked chicken.

4 Chicken halves, medium sized - NOT LARGE
1 bag of hickory wood chips 
1 disposable Aluminum Half Pan

Brine
1 Gallon of Water
2 Lemons
1 Stalk of Rosemary
1 Stalk of Thyme
7 Cloves of Garlic
2 tblsp of Peppercorns
1/2 Cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup of Sugar

Zest both lemons, and squeeze remaining juice into a big stock pot. Mix remaining ingredients into pot using some warm water to start to make sure all salt and sugar dissolves. Submerge all chicken in pot, and refrigerate overnight.

Take half pan and use sharp knife to make small slits in the bottom of the pan. Next fill pan with wood chips and sprinkle lightly with water.

Turn grill on high, and heat up for about 20 minutes. Place pan of chips on one side of the grill and close top. Wait about 15 minutes until chips are smoking and turn off all of the grill except for the element under the chips pan.
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Wood Chips - Slightly Soaked - TFL
Place the chicken halves, skin side up, on the portion of the grill that is now turned off and close the grill. Maintain a steady supply of smoke by monitoring the chips and adding more as needed.

After approximately 90-120 minutes, test the chicken for doneness by pulling the leg. If it easily separates from the thigh, then the chicken is ready. If it is still stiff, and does not separate easily, continue smoking until it will pull apart with ease.
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Beautiful Smoky Glaze - Nothing added - TFL
Slow and low is the principle here, and the smoking just adds flavor. Brining before hand will ensure juicy, flavorful meat. We did nothing to the finished product other than plate and serve. Enjoy chicken at home like the pro's!
 
 
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Buffalo WIngs courtesy of Rick/Flickr
We at TFL love chicken. We also love grilled, spicy food. Come to think of it, we love blue cheese and crispy celery. Add all of these together and you have the perfect opportunity to prepare and indulge in what possibly may be the perfect protein - the chicken wing.

Not so long ago, the wing was not really the "thing" - but instead was initially scrap meat. Urban legend has it that a young bar keep in upstate NY started serving the cheapest piece of chicken he could buy, and the buffalo wing was born. Since, there are many variations including brined, Thai, Chinese, hot, sweet, grilled, fried gourmet and bar snacks.

At TFL, we take our wings seriously. We have grilled, fried, broiled and baked. Brined, dry rubbed, and basted - there is not a technique we have not applied. After many tastings by friends and family, we have come upon a recipe that combines the best of all recipes, and makes our samplings much easier to attend.

This recipe does take time, but we think all good things come to those who work hard and apply themselves. Good Luck !

Ingredients

1/2 pound (per serving) of mixed drummettes and wingettes separated
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp of unsalted butter
1 jar of wing sauce of your choice (we suggest Frank's Red Hot/Wings - Buffalo)
4 oz fresh blue cheese
1 jar of favorite blue cheese dressing (we suggest Marie's chunky Blue Cheese)
1 bnch of fresh celery

Preheat oven to 280 deg F.
Place wings in shallow baking pan, and season with salt and pepper. (You can add further dry rubs at this point, be we prefer to keep the seasonings simple)
Loosely cover with Tin Foil
Place in oven for 2 hours
Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes
Drain all liquid from the pan
Heat grill to high and chop celery into 4" strips
Mix fresh blue cheese with dressing in a serving bowl and garnish with celery
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Grilled Wings Courtesy of GordonFlood.com/Flickr
When grill is hot, place wings on grill for about 2-3 minutes per side or until browned nicely.
Transfer wings to heat proof bowl, and toss with favorite sauce and the butter
Serve immediately

You can also finish the wings in hot frying oil, but we prefer the taste of the grill.
 
 
This is a relatively easy recipe but tastes best with 24 hour marinade. We always recommend steaks to be cooked to a medium rare, and with flank it is essential to slice across the grain.
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Steak Sandwich - TFL
Ingredients Steak/Marinade:

1 Flank Steak - 1-2 lbs
6 cloves of Garlic - Chopped
4 sprigs of Rosemary
1/2 cup of Olive Oil
1 tsp of kosher Salt
1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper

Combine last 5 ingredient into food processor and chop thoroughly. Place steak in heavy duty ziploc bag and pour chopped slurry over. Make sure all sides of steak are coated, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

When ready to grill, remove steak from cooler and be sure all marinade is removed. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and in the meantime, heat grill to high.

Ingredients for Sandwich:

4-6 Hoagie rolls or Baguettes
1 bunch or bag of arrugula
1 pound of oven roasted tomatoes (NOT SUNDRIED - can be found on most Olive bars i.e. - Whole Foods)
1 large red onion - sliced and carmelized
1 Jar of Blue Cheese dressing - extra thick
2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice onions and saute in 1 tblsp of butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the fresh thyme. Reduce heat to medium/low and allow onions to sit and carmelize.

When grill is very hot, place steak (with all marinade scraped off) on grill for about 3-4 minutes per side until the meat just begins to firm up. Once grilled set aside for about 15 minutes, and slice against the grain as thin as possible.

Toast the bread, and smear both sides with the blue cheese dressing. Place the tomatoes, arrugula, and the onions on one side of the bread, and top with several pieces of sliced steak. Top with other slice of bread, and slice in half. ENJOY !!
 
 
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Miso Selection at Super H Mart by TFL
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Miso Grilled Salmon by TFL
Super H Mart is a fantastic destination for quality food at affordable prices. One of our favorite items from Super H is the sashimi grade fish found, pre-wrapped in the seafood cooler. This salmon and tuna has more than likely been frozen, but it is of superior grade that other stores (WF's) charge three times the price.

A quick meal for us is miso salmon. This is a very simple recipe with only 4 ingredients that can be completed in less than 60 minutes.

1/4 cup Red Miso Paste
1/4 cup Mirin
1 Tsp of Sesame Oil
1 Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley (Italian)

2 6oz filets of Salmon, preferrably sushi grade

Mix first three ingredients together and coat salmon on all sides. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and no longer than 60. Heat grill to high and wait until very hot. Brush as much marinade off of the fish as possible (miso has sugar which burns) and grill about 3-6 minutes per side until the fish just starts to firm up. Remove and serve immediatley garnished with the parsley and squeeze of lemon.

 
 
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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.   
 

 
 
Fresh Sweet Potatoes at Market
Fresh Sweet Potatoes, Courtesy of Natalie Maynor/Flickr
This is a delicious recipe for a cold salad, using the healthy alternative sweet potatoes. This goes great with a picnic, fried chicken, packed sandwiches, and a green salad. Make it today, and eat it all week.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:
6-8 Medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 1"x1".
1 bunch of Cilantro, washed, destemmed, and chopped.
1 Golden pineapple, peeled and cubed 1"x1".
Salt to taste.
1 Tsp of Red Pepper flakes.
2 Tblsp of Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss Potatoes, pineapple, salt, pepper flakes and olive oil and spread out evenly on sheet pan.  Roast in oven for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Set aside and let cool.

Once cooled, toss in fresh cilantro and drizzle a generous amount of Extra Virgin Olive over mixture. Season with extra salt and pepper flakes according to your taste.

Chill and serve.
 
 
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Artichokes. Courtesy of Magpie/Flickr
Spring is the time when the world wakes up and comes back to life. From theFoodList view, it is a time of fantastic fresh vegetables. Two of our favorite come out early in the season, Artichokes and Asparagus. Here is one of our favorite classic Italian dishes using several fresh and seasonal vegetables:

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 Yellow onion, thinly sliced 
1 heaping tablespoon chopped pancetta or bacon 
6 large fresh artichoke bottoms, pre-cooked (canned or jarred) chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth 
1 1/2 cups cubed day-old bread (hard and crusty the better), cubed 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved for garnish 
1 pint cherry tomatoes 
8 oz Jumbo lump crab meat

Place a large stock pot or sauce pan over medium heat, and when hot, add oil. Add garlic, onion and pancetta, stirring well after each addition, and cook until translucent. Add artichokes and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, increase heat to medium-high, bring to low boil and cook until artichokes are soft for 5-7 minutes. Add bread cubes. Cook for 2 minutes.

Toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil, lightly salt and pepper, and place on sheet pan and roast in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until charred. Remove and let cool to room temperature Lightly toss into the crab meat with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve at room temp in small bowls. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.




 
 
Leg of Lamb with Garlic Sauce
Courtesy of Food52.com, and Sarah Shatz
Every Easter family tradition dictates Leg of Lamb for the menu. This recipe will not dissapoint; larded with garlic and anchovies, finsihed with a garlic and Rhone sauce that suprises all. Just in time for Sunday's Dinner.

Serves 8 generously   CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE
 
 
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Courtesy of Ad Hoc, Tom Keller, and Inuyaki

ACTIVE TIME:
1 HR 30 MIN
SERVES: 8


INGREDIENTS
16 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (I prefer dark meat, substitute as desired)
Cooking oil for frying (peanut if you have it.)
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish


BRINE INGREDIENTS
1 gallon cold water
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons


DREDGE INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk


DIRECTIONS

  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight. Drain and rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is really dry and that you scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin.
  2. If you want to sous vide the chicken before frying, add two to three pieces of chicken to each Foodsaver bag, then vacuum and seal the bags. Place the chicken at 140F/60C water bath for at least 1 hour. Otherwise, skip to step 5.
  3. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure chicken is very dry.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ground black pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper or use a wire rack. Let sit for 20 minutes and then redredge the chicken in buttermilk and flour before frying.
  5. In a very large pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 360F. Use enough oil to deep fry the chicken. If you want, you can also pan fry the chicken, as seen below. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches until golden and crunchy and the internal temperature is 160F/60C (about 20 minutes).
Note: If you cooked the chicken sous vide, you can really just trust your judgement and fry until you’re statisfied with the color of the crust since the chicken is already cooked.

Transfer the chicken to cooling rack to drain, and keep warm in a low oven (175–200F) while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

SOUS VIDE NOTES

  • Cooking the chicken sous vide ensures that it’s moist and tender. If sous vide is not possible, you can either precook chicken in a covered dish, 200F, for about 90 mins prior to battering and frying. You can also fry chicken until desired crispness, and then finish in a 325F oven until internal temperature reaches 160F. 
  • 140F/60C may seem like a low temp for the chicken (160F/71.1C is considered “safe”), but the internal temperature of the chicken will rise when it’s being fried.
GENERAL NOTES

  • Chicken should be at room temperature when you’re ready to cook.
  • You can add herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.) to the oil as it’s heating to infuse it with flavor and then use the same herbs as a garnish.
  • This fried chicken is great the next day, cold and straight out of the refrigerator.