The #Sundaynightguacburgers Challenge
When The Urban Poser Jenni Hulet threw down the #sundaynightguacburgers challenge on Instagram, I knew I would have to step up my game. So I surveyed the competition and noticed a few trends.
5280meat was dominating the height game, their burgers go for miles and miles and miles...
TheFeistyKitchen rocks layers like no other...
And TheUrbanPoser herself was crushing it with "surf and turf" stylings accented by copious quantities of out of this world shoestring parsnip fries.
What to do, what to do...
I figured that a good place to start was the meat freezer. Shuffling through frozen blocks of venison, I found my muse.
Some time ago I purchased several locally raised, boneless, grassfed and grass-finished beef short ribs. I'm not so sure what I planned on doing with them at the time, probably a braise of some sort, but apparently I never got around to it. That turned out to be a good thing because I knew that a short rib burger was going to be the centerpiece of my creation.
|Showing the steps from "short rib" to "short rib burger" on Instagram|
5 Rules for Making Epic Burgers
Ever since I wrote "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire," I've been obsessed with burgers. Many books have been written on crafting the perfect burger, but what I've distilled from these various lessons is the following key points:
- Quality Trumps Quantity
- Less is More
- Keep Your Hands Off
- Let it Sear
- Let it Rest
1) Quality Trumps Quantity
In practice, this means start with the best quality meat you can find rather than loading up on cheaper cuts. Additionally, for a burger you want a ratio of lean to fat in the neighborhood of 80/20. My short ribs were probably pushing closer to 70/30, but I'm OK with a little extra chub, that just means more flavor!
2) Less is More
The next point, "Less is More", refers to the seasoning of your meat. People often go crazy mixing all sorts of things into their burger grind. Onions, cheese, mushrooms, and any number of things might be tasty, but there is a fine line between a burger and meatloaf. I wanted a burger in the classic sense, so I stuck with a simple blend of hardwood smoked and fresh ground black pepper for my seasoning.
3) Keep Your Hands Off
"Keep Your Hands Off" is a warning against overworking your burger grind. I sent the chunks of short rib through my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer meat grinding attachment twice, handling the grind as little as possible, and just barely pressed them into patties. This gives your burger a light, airy structure that will graciously yield when you bite into it.
4) Let it Sear
When it comes to "Let it Sear", the reason for this is simple. If you want your burger to develop a nice savory crust, you'd do well to cook it in a pan, even if you are cooking it on a grill! On a grill this means using cast-iron while on a stovetop, either cast iron or ceramic would do (I prefer ceramic cookware when cooking on my stove.) Once you pan is hot, add a little oil, I used Kelapo coconut oil spray, and lay your burger into the pan. Allow it to sit there, unmolested, for a good 3-4 minutes. Only when the sear has fully developed should you flip it, repeating the process on the other side.
5) Let it Rest
Finally, you need to give your burger a break. Just like a steak, you need to allow your burger to rest after you finish cooking it. A good rule of thumb is to rest the meat 1/2 the amount of time you cooked it, so if you took 10 minutes to cook your burger, give it 5 minutes to settle down (covered in foil to keep it warm.) This allows the juices in the burger to redistribute so they don't all run out the second you bite into it.
|4 steps to ramen bun nirvana.|
Fun with Ramen Buns
Once I was settled on making a short rib burger, the next questions was that of the bun.
In the past, I have used portobello mushrooms, lettuce wraps, or gluten free buns, but I felt like my short rib burger deserved something unique and different.
When I think of short ribs, the Korean tradition of "Kalbi", grilled short ribs, comes to mind. This drew me down a path that suggested that Asian inspired flavors might be the best compliment to my short rib burger.
I recalled hearing about a "ramen bun" and the thought intrigued me, so I did a little research. Invented by Chef Keizo Shimamoto in 2013, the Ramen Burger (tm) is described on the website Ramenburger.com as follows:
"Voted one of “The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time” by Time Magazine. Some have claimed to have tried one before, but the Original Ramen Burger™ is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before. A fresh USDA Prime ground beef chuck patty sandwiched between two craftily formed buns made from freshly cut ramen noodles. Accompanied by a special shoyu glaze, concocted by Keizo Shimamoto himself, and choice market fresh vegetables, the Ramen Burger™ is the biggest thing in Ramen and Burgers. Two of your favorite foods in one!"
I did a little more digging and found that the technique for making a ramen bun was pretty simple. Similar to making a potato pancake, all you do is mix prepared ramen with a little bit of egg, press them into a mold (a small bowl will do), and voila! Throw the eggy ramen into a pan and once it's cooked through it's good to go!
The problem is, most store bought ramen is crap and I don't own a noodle shop, so freshly made ramen is out. Luckily, I live near an Earth Fare natural foods market and they stock all sorts of fun healthy goodies. I found an organic black rice ramen that only contained a blend of black and white rice flours and nothing else. I ditched the accompanying "flavor packet" and instead cooked my ramen in a homemade dashi, a broth of kombu seaweed, smoked bonito flakes (aka "katsuobushi"), and dried shiitake mushroom. This solved my ramen problem and kept my ingredient list clean.
Creating the Ultimate Ketchup
The final step in any burger construction is deciding on the condiments and toppings. There is a fine line between too much and not enough. Too much, and your burger and other carefully crafted ingredients get hidden in a flavor cacophony. Too little, and you miss out on the possibility of accentuating and accenting your main players.
For this burger, I decided that I would only use one condiment and one topping. Since this was a #sundaynightguacburger challenge, avocado was a must. Rather than mashing it into guac, however, I kept it in it's essential form. Three slices of perfectly ripe organic Haas avocado.
For the condiment, I wasn't satisfied with any ordinary condiment. If I was only using one I should really make it count right? So, staying with the theme of Asian inspired flavors, I used a Magic Bullet blender to combine Wild Brine Korean Kimchi, Ninja Squirrel GMO-free Sriracha, and Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup. This gave me a smooth, superbly spicy, sweet and umami ketchup that blew my mind and kicked my tastebuds in the teeth.
With this final piece of the puzzle in place, I knew I was ready to rock the #sundaynightguacburgers challenge!
The Full Recipe
Short Rib Ramen Burger with Sriracha Kimchi Ketchup (Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free)
The full beefy flavor of grass-fed short ribs, spicy, sweet, and umami sriracha kimchi ketchup, and crunchy, chewy black rice ramen buns meld with creamy avocado to create the ultimate burger experience.
For short rib burgers
1/2lb grass-fed, grass-finished boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1" cubes
Smoked sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Kelapo Coconut Oil Spray
1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced
For ramen buns
2 packets of Forbidden Rice Ramen
2 pastured eggs, beaten
Pink sea salt
Kelapo Coconut Oil Spray
Four small, bowls
For ramen cooking broth (Dashi)
1 sheet dried Kombu seaweed
1 package dried Bonito flakes
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 cups of water
1 pinch sea salt
For Sriracha Kimchi Ketchup
4 tablespoons Wild Brine Korean Kimchi
1 tablespoon Ninja Squirrel Sriracha
2 tablespoons Sir Kensington's Classic Ketchup
Prepare the ramen by first making the dashi. To make the dashi, begin by rinsing the kombu under cold water. Soak the kombu and shitaki mushrooms in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove the shiitake stems and slice the caps before returning to the water. Bring water to a simmer, add 1/2 cup dried bonito flakes, onion powder, and sea salt. Allow the broth to simmer for an additional 15 minutes before straining.
Cook the Forbidden Rice ramen in the strained dashi according to package instructions (boil ~4 minutes until noodles are just tender.) Drain the prepared ramen and, combine with the beaten egg and season with salt. Divide the ramen egg mixture into the four small bowls sprayed with coconut oil and put into the refrigerator.
Using a meat grinder, twice grind your beef short rib chunks. Gently press the ground short rib into two equal patties and season with smoked salt and black pepper. Spray a hot skillet with coconut oil and cook the patties 3-5 minutes per side. After removing the burgers from the skillet, tent them with foil and allow to rest.
Prepare the Sriracha Kimchi Ketchup by blending kimchi, sriracha, and ketchup in food processor or blender. When the ketchup is smooth and fully combined, remove to a small bowl and set aside.
Remove the bowls with the ramen egg mixture and spray a hot skillet with coconut oil spray. Carefully slide the ramen egg patties into the pan and allow them to cook until golden brown. Flip the patties and allow the other side to cook to a golden brown as well.
To serve, layer avocado slices and a short rib burger on top of the ramen bun. Top the burger with Sriracha Kimchi Ketchup and another ramen bun. Dig in. Be happy.