Summer burgers benefit from the perfect sauce.By Charles Perry
This is the prime season of the year for throwing burgers on the barbecue, and there's nothing I like better. Except maybe these exotic burgers with sour cream sauce.
You don't have to fire up a barbecue to cook them, so they're an all-year recipe. You certainly can grill them, but they're even a little more flavorful if you fry them (not that there has ever been a law against putting a frying pan on a grill). They're irresistible on a bun or toast, but they would also be at home at a candle-lit dinner with flowers and the good napkins, accompanied by a mixed green salad.
RELATED: Tips for better grilling.
The Franco-Russian recipe makes a pan gravy from that ultra-Russian ingredient sour cream, and then, at least in the French version, it makes it more haute-cuisine-y by diluting the cream with a bit of stock.
Stock? Huh. Try Dijon mustard. Sour cream and Dijon are flavors made for each other, and this sauce is so good I can hardly stand it.
If you're grilling the burgers, there's no deglazing step - you just mix the mustard and sour cream. This recipe can also be adapted as a party appetizer, the kind of thing people spear with a toothpick while they're milling around. In that case, form the meat into 25 or 30 meatballs, and when the sour cream gravy is ready, serve them in it.
Punched-Up Burgers With Sour Cream Sauce
1 small onion
½ cup coarse bread crumbs such as panko
2 pounds ground beef, preferably 90% lean
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
⅓ cup flour for dredging
3 tablespoons butter or oil
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Optional: a few sprigs of fresh dill or cilantro
1. Process the onion in a food processor to a smooth consistency. Strain the onion solids from the juice in a strainer and discard them. You should have at least ½ cup onion juice. Mix the onion juice with the bread crumbs and allow them to sit for 2 minutes. Lightly squeeze out the excess juice.
2. Mix the bread crumb and onion juice mixture with the beef, salt and pepper and knead to an even consistency. Divide into 8 patties.
3. Put about ⅓ cup flour in a paper bag, put the patties in the bag in several batches and shake the bag to dredge. Remove the patties and arrange on a work surface.
4. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the meat over medium heat in several batches until thoroughly brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes per batch. As a batch is done, keep warm while finishing the rest.
5. Discard the cooking oil and deglaze the pan with the sour cream over medium-low heat. When all the brown bits have been dissolved, stir in the mustard. Taste and add more mustard or sour cream as desired.
6. To serve, put two patties on a plate and top with the sour cream sauce and optional fresh herb garnish.
Zester Daily contributor Charles Perry is a former rock 'n' roll journalist turned food historian who worked for the Los Angeles Times' award-winning Food section, where he twice was a finalist for the James Beard award.
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