Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harvest apple chicken burgers with cranberry Stilton

Remember that time I bought 22 pounds of apples?  Yes, really.

I swear it didn't seem like that much at first.  Matt and I each filled a bag to our hearts' content.  He loaded up on softer apples like Cortlands, Empires, and McIntoshes.  I, however, went straight to the super firm and sweet Honeycrisps, Jonagolds, and Braeburns.  We checked out and lugged our haul up to the car before returning for pumpkins.

It was a storybook fall afternoon.  The air was cool but not cold, a light breeze scattered just-turning leaves all about, and everyone around us seemed to be in a cheerful mood.   We sipped on apple cider, feasted on barbecue and mac & cheese, sampled all sorts of apples, and wandered around (in our matching puffy vests) without a worry in the world.  Oh, and I got to sport my first heavy scarf of the season!  Can you think of a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?

We totally permitted ourselves to get swept up in the moment... and it was fantastic.

Back to the apples.  Again, it really didn't seem like that much.

I spent much of our ride back to the city justifying the quantity of fruit occupying our backseat.  "We each eat at least one apple a day.  And it's apple pie time.  You love apple pie!  Plus, I've been wanting to make that breakfast granola thing that I made a few years ago -- do you remember it?  Anyway, apples store well in the crisper drawer."

Mysteriously, our bags of apples seemed much heavier on the way up to the apartment.  Bags or, as labeled, pecks.  Who on earth uses the term "peck" anymore anyway?  Am I really expected to know how much a peck actually is?  Might as well call it a thingamajig or doodad or whatever word the cool kids are using these days.

Once home, we decided to actually weigh our toddler apples.

Fun self-esteem boosting exercise: Step on a scale holding two giant bags of produce, then ditch the bags and weigh yourself again.  Impossible not to feel great.  Though you might feel a bit nervous about how you're going to use every bit of that 22 pounds of fruit.  Two steps forward, one step back, right?

So, that was Sunday.  On Monday, I made the first apple pie of the season.  Last night, I made breakfast apple granola crisp.  And, on Tuesday night, I made these lip-smacking harvest apple chicken burgers with cranberry Stilton!

Inspired by last year's mini apple bacon meatloaves, I created a burger stuffed and topped with a whole mess o' good things.  I mean, these are bursting at the seams with flavor!

Lean ground chicken is mixed with minced shallots, ground sage, and straight-from-the-orchard diced apples.  Once cooked, I topped the burgers with sweet Stilton cheese dotted with dried cranberries (hat tip to my boss who first introduced me to this stuff -- it's amazing!) and fresh baby spinach.

The result?  A homemade burger so juicy and unique you'll hardly believe it's homemade.  (Tip: Don't try to eat and pat yourself on the back at the same time.  Mess guaranteed.)

We absolutely devoured these burgers and agreed they may have dethroned the rosemary chicken burgers as our favorite non-beef burger.  Imagine our excitement when we realized there were leftovers, so we could each enjoy a burger for lunch the next day.

"You know, you should make these again," said Matt as we cleaned up.

"Obviously.  Except I need to buy more chicken."

"And apples," added Matt, sarcastically.

15 pounds to go.

One year ago: Mini apple bacon meatloaves
Two years ago: Homemade taco seasoning
Three years ago: Chocolate pudding dump cake
Four years ago: Perfect roast chicken

Harvest Apple Chicken Burgers with Spinach & Cranberry Stilton
-makes 4 burgers

A few notes: If you can't find cranberry Stilton, any number of cheeses would work well: smoked gouda, brie, or sharp white cheddar.

1 pound ground chicken breast
1 shallot, minced
1 large apple, peeled, cored & diced
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 ounces cranberry stilton cheese, divided
Handful baby spinach
4 burger buns

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and mist with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine chicken, shallot, apple, egg, seasoning, and bread crumbs.  Form into 4 equal patties.  (Don't worry -- they will be a bit sticky.)

Place patties on hot grill to cook.  Cook burgers for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, flipping halfway through.  When burgers are done, top each with cheese.  Remove burgers to buns and plate, topping each with a few spinach leaves and top of bun.  Enjoy immediately!

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