Bacon Onion Cheeseburgers

Bacon is good on a burger but I’ve always wondered about putting bacon in the burger. There are a gazillion recipes out there – some say use cooked bacon crumbled in, other recommend cooking the bacon just a little, others just mix uncooked bacon in with the burger meat.

I didn’t want the burger crunchy nor did I want any bite of burger to have raw. I decided to do a quick par-cook of minced bacon so it could be well incorporated. You can definitely use more bacon – for three pounds of ground meat, I figured about a half of strip per burger as I didn’t want the bacon to overwhelm the burgerness of the meat, if that makes sense. I used thick cut bacon as I figured the thin stuff would be destroyed by the food processor. 

I also cooked the onions in the bacon fat to eliminate the taste of raw onion and up the bacon flavor. I ended up with almost caramelized onions that added a sweetness and depth to the final result.

Bacon Onion Cheeseburgers

3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck
8 strips thick bacon
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
grated cheddar cheese, to taste

In a food processor, pulse the bacon until it is well and truly pulped. Place in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. In the food processor, chop the quartered onions. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside to cool. Add the onions to the pan and sauté in the bacon grease until soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, place the meat, the bacon and the onions and the seasonings. Mix with your hands to combine. Divide and form into quarter pound patties. Makes 14 patties.

Create a two zone area on your grill, so you can move the burgers to the cool side in case of flare ups. Make a small indention in each burger with your finger before setting it on the grates to keep the burger from bulging while it cooks. Grill over direct heat for about 5 minutes per side. Do not press down on the burgers during cooking – you’ll lose those precious juices.

Sprinkle on the grated cheese for the last few moments of cooking and serve with toasted buns.

We had grilled zucchini from the garden with our burgers.

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Shady Acres – Seminary, Mississippi

As you travel on US Highway 49 between Hattiesburg and Seminary, there is a farm stand/restaurant over three buildings and a fenced in outside area called Shady Acres Village.

While the outside area has plants, metal chicken sculptures and other yard art, the inside is a tight packed general store with local seasonal produce, a bakery with pies and cakes and an entire wall of jams and jellies. Attached is also a restaurant with hot plates (ribs, chicken, fried fish, etc) and darn tasty hamburgers.

While everything looks good, we usually get the burgers. They are nice and thick with pickles, tomatoes and lettuce on a soft bun. One of us gets one with a side of onion rings:

And, the other with fries and we share our sides. The drinks are refillable.

There is plenty of seating including an outside seating area that is covered (and has fans), so we usually stop there when we are traveling with the dog, as she is welcome there.

The staff are all super friendly and the bathrooms are clean. It is a great place to stop when you’re road tripping along US 49.

Jo Bob’s of Grand Isle

My parents and I took the scenic drive down Louisiana Highway 1 to Grand Isle. We stopped at the Grand Isle State Park to read more about Jean Lafitte (pirate, privateer and patriot) and to watch the pelicans and seagulls fight to fly across the strong wind currents off the gulf.

On our way out of town we stopped at Jo-Bob’s Gas and Grill for burgers.

The burgers are 100% beef and made to order. Mom got the Jo-Bob burger with mushrooms and bacon and melty cheese with the seasoned fries. Very tasty burger and I ended up eating part of hers! Mine was the basic cheeseburger. Very good and meaty.

Dad ordered the cheddar burger and and it was deliciously cheesy.

They don’t have many tables upstairs but do offer free drink refills. Very friendly staff and a menu of more than just burgers. Definitely worth a stop after a day on on the beach.

 

 

Sisters Kajun Kitchen – Lafayette

I was over in Lafayette today and finished up at the Mall of Acadiana for lunch time. Using Google Maps ‘explore nearby’ for ‘quick bites,’ we came across Sisters Kajun Kitchen just a little way down the road.

sisters kajun kitchen

I ordered the fried chicken. It came to the table piping hot and well seasoned with a nice, light coating. Very well done and I ate every bite. The mac and cheese was rich and creamy. A cut above average, this was not your usual macaroni and cheese.

fried chicken mac and cheese

Michelle ordered the Dylan’s Kajun Extreme Burger, based on all the reviews. It was a very large beef patty with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce on a very delicious sourdough bun. Juicy burger with lots of flavor to go with its mammoth size. She ordered the hand battered onion rings with it and they could have used a little rewarming but had a nice crunch and flavor to them.

dylans extreme kajun burger

Reasonable prices, good selection and very  friendly folks working there. An unexpected jewel on Johnston Street and worth a visit.

Eat Your Heart Out Panel – Mary’s Recipes

At the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon I was on a panel called Eat Your Heart Out – Writing about Food that was moderated by the funny and fabulous Lynn Ames. My fellow panelists were  Karin Kallmaker, Georgia Beers and R.G. Emanuelle, all of whom write deliciously about food. Our panel was quite fun, even though I was bracketed by two vegetarians!

eat your heart panel long

Photo credit – Ann de Mooij

The audience had an opportunity to write down a protein, a vegetable and an ‘other’ for the panelists to draw from and then to make a meal after returning home. I choose lamb, eggplant and peanut butter. Much, much better than RG’s gummi bears or Karin’s herring and asparagus!

I decided to go for Moussaka Burgers with Peanut Butter Ice Cream for dessert. Classic Greek moussaka layers eggplant with a spiced mixed meat mixture, topped with a sauce and baked. Instead, I sautéed eggplant, onions and spices and combined that with ground lamb.

Eggplant and Lamb Burgers

eggplant and onions2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced fine
2 cups diced eggplant (remove skin first)
pinch of salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of dried oregano
1 pound ground lamb

Soft hamburger rolls, toasted
tomato slices

Sauté the onion and eggplant, with a big pinch of salt, in the olive oil over medium heat until the eggplant and onions have turned translucent, and started to breakdown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ketchup, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and dried oregano; cook for 1 minute more. Remove and let cool to room temp.

Combine the eggplant mixture with the lamb until well mixed. Wet your hands and form 6  burgers. Cover in plastic and let sit in the refrigerator until ready to cook so that all the flavors can come together.

uncooked patties

Heat up a grill pan to medium high. Season both sides of the burgers with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Grill burgers to desired degree of doneness (about 5 minutes per side for medium) and serve on toasted rolls with tomato slices.

lamb burger

For dessert, I visited an old faithful – peanut butter ice cream.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

peanut butter ice cream1 cup peanut butter – I use crunchy because I like the texture of the final product
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 – 1/3 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the peanut butter and sugar in a blender until smooth. Add the milk. Blend on low speed until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and the vanilla (don’t stir too much, just a few strokes until it’s well mixed).

Place in your ice cream maker and follow the directions until desired consistency, then scrape it into a container. If you let it sit in a freezer for a few hours or overnight, it’ll harden up and have the standard ice cream consistency you’ve come to know and love.

I’m very grateful for Charlotte and Thomas for being my guinea pigs for the meal. They definitely seemed to enjoy it.

I’ll add links to the other panelists meals as I get them.

Cowbell

I’ve been meaning to get over to Cowbell for a while but it wasn’t until a good friend had her birthday dinner here that I got around to it. They’re located in the Carrollton area, where Oak Street runs into the levee and are decorated rather eclectically in hip country kitsch.

We started with cocktails. It was a little cold so I had the Chupacabra with cocoa, coffee, tequila and other flavorings. Good but a little to much of the coffee flavor for my taste. The Nutty Irishman was very good and the Fruit Fly was very refreshing with mint and citrus in a sugar rimmed tumbler. I didn’t particularly care for the Pim’s cup – the tonic/soda they used made it too dry and the mint was confusing.

I started with the mac and cheese – terrific flavor with a nice selection of cheeses. While it could have been a little more creamy, it very much is something to order for the table and let everyone have a bite.

We all had the Locally World Famous Cowbell Burger. Mine came with white cheddar and house made pickles. The burger is thick, perfectly seasoned, high quality meat and cooked to order. It is definitely one of the best in the city. The bun is lightly toasted and comes with homemade ketchup and their house agogo sauce (which I didn’t care for – a mix of mayo, sirracha, and honey).

They had very friendly staff from the hostess who plied us with drinks while we waited for the big table to become open to the server who checked in regularly and was quick to explain specials, desserts and menu items. Lots of humor and teasing, which is a sign of people who enjoy their work and want you to enjoy your experience.

Definitely worth the visit and on my list to head back to again when I’m craving a good burger!

Val’s Burgers – Castro Valley

My good friend Brian turned me onto Val’s Burgers several years ago and it was good to learn during this trip that nothing has changed. In fact, it is probably safe to say that nothing has changed on the decor or menu or service since the 50’s!

Val’s is an old style diner with wood instead of chrome but the burgers are thick, juicy and affordable. The burgers are so juicy that the bun nearly disintegrates by the time you get to the last bite. There isn’t a lot of seasonings or fillers in this burger–it is pure meat, cooked to order. The three of us had an excellent meal for right around $20 bucks. I got the baby burger (that’s 1/3 lb) with cheese and it was plenty good. I can’t imagine eating a papa burger–1 lb of meat!

A couple of tips–one order of fries will feed two, maybe three people and the milkshake is enough to share as well. They only take cash and are closed Sundays/Mondays.