Thursday, August 14, 2014

Caprese sirloin burgers with balsamic mayo

Almost a month after my birthday, and people are still asking me, "How does it feel to be 30?  Do you feel old?  Or even different?"

I don't know what they're expecting me to say but, based on their reactions, I know it's not this: "Feels good.  Exactly the same!"  Maybe they wanted to hear of my new affinity for "simpler times" and subscription to AARP magazine?

I'm only sort of kidding.

Truthfully, though, what I've seen of 30 so far has been nothing short of outstanding.  And, more importantly, what I've tasted has been outstanding, thanks to one of my birthday gifts -- a meat grinder!

(If you're not a red meat eater, you may not agree with what I'm about to say, so feel free to click away -- I won't be offended.  In fact, you should check out these delicious vegetarian black bean burgers!)

There are few more beautiful sights in the culinary world than freshly ground sirloin turned into the juiciest burgers this side of Texas. I'm weepy just thinking about it.

A dear friend bought me this food grinder attachment for my stand mixer (thank you!), and I couldn't have been more excited.  Like, squeal out loud and clap your hands kind of excited.  You know, because a meat grinder is totally the kind of thing folks hope to find under the Christmas tree.  The kind of thing that elicits this sort of reaction.

There's a well-established list of items to never, ever, under any circumstances gift a woman, like a vacuum cleaner and kitchen appliances.  I'd like to know who made this list... and then I'd like to give 'em a nice flick to the forehead.  That list is utter hogwash.

If a woman asks for something, puts it on her wish list, and starts dropping increasingly obvious hints about owning it, it's safe to assume she wants it.  I wanted a food grinder.  I talked about what I'd do with a food grinder.  And, after receiving one, I can say that I love my food grinder from here to the moon.

Love it because it helped me make the juiciest caprese sirloin burgers earlier this week!

I previously used a mini food chopper to grind meat for things like garlic rosemary chicken burgers, but I can already tell how much easier a legitimate food grinder will make that meal's prep.  If you're on the fence about grinding your own meats at home, let me share my top selling points:
  • Knowing exactly what is and, more importantly, isn't in the meat mixture (think leaner and less fatty!)
  • Saving major bucks, especially when you can take advantage of BOGO sales on chicken breasts and larger cuts of beef and pork
  • Ensuring the meat you'll be feeding yourself and your family is the freshest!

Practicality aside, let's get to the real meat (oh, I definitely did) of this post -- the yummy burgers.

Fresher than fresh ground sirloin is seasoned with Italian bread crumbs, oregano, garlic, basil and flavored with sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar.  The cooked burgers are then topped with thick slices of vine-ripened tomatoes and gooey melted mozzarella cheese and finished with a sprinkling of fresh basil and dollop of zippy balsamic mayo.

All the things!

With all of this freshness, these caprese burgers should really be known as The Ultimate Summer Burgers.   One bite and you'll agree.  And we have my foray into "old age" to thank for 'em ;)

One year ago: Turkey, onion & pesto panini
Two years ago: Creamy taco pasta
Three years ago: Ham & asparagus frittata
Four years ago: Pasta with creamy no-cream sauce

Caprese Sirloin Burgers with Balsamic Mayo
-makes 4 burgers

A few notes: If you prefer to use a ground beef mix rather than sirloin, feel free to do so.  Also, I imagine ground chicken or turkey would make delicious variations of this burger; if you try it, leave a comment, please.

1 pound ground sirloin
1 egg white, lightly beaten

 Tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
Ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large tomato, sliced into thick rounds
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 burger buns or English muffins

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and remaining 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar; set aside.  Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and mist with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add sirloin, egg white, milk, bread crumbs, 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, pepper, oregano, and half of basil, and gently combine until mixed.  Form into 4 equal patties.  Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Place patties on hot grill to cook.

Preheat oven broiler.  (If using an actual grill, skip this step.  Instead, simply add the tomato & cheese directly to the burgers on the grill and close lid for a minute or two until cheese has melted.)

Cook burgers to desired doneness, flipping halfway through.  (For medium, 4 minutes per side did the trick.)  Arrange bottom halves of buns on a cookie sheet.  Remove cooked burgers and place each on a burger on a bun bottom half.  Top each with a tomato slice and slice or two of cheese.  Place pan under broiler until cheese is melted.  Meanwhile, smear top halves of buns with balsamic mayo.

Remove pan from broiler.  Plate burgers, top with remaining basil, and top with other halves of buns before serving.  Enjoy immediately!

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