Herein I give some of my more favorite hamburger thoughts. I did post about burgers once before, but usually I take ground meat and do other things with it than burgers.
The thing is, I grew up in an era when my father could come home from the supermarket with “steak tartare” which was really ground meat tartare, and he’d put a raw egg on top of the pile of that (or perhaps enough piles of that so the family could each have an egg and the underlying meat, although I believe mother passed on this). He’d do that, and I’m not sure what else went atop — scallions? ground pepper? Perhaps, capers? Anyhow, this stuff was great!
And Mother would hand-form her own hamburger patties, incorporating onion, Worchestershire sauce, A-1 sauce, and seasonings depending upon what was in the kitchen and she felt appropriate. Stores, to be honest, never had pre-formed, flattened into hockey puck patties back then. You had to take the five or ten minutes to create these things, yourself. She and my father cooked them medium rare, to bring out the flavor and tenderness.
Things proceeded along, and I didn’t pay attention, and suddenly in the early 1990’s the fast food chain Jack in the Box ended up with major food disease contamination, and several people lost their lives, and others have had to contend with food-related illnesses for like forever after.
Frankly, I didn’t believe our food sources could improve, so for at least several years after, I ate fake food hamburger, fake food breakfast sausage. Not knowing to look at the number of ingredients on those packages, or knowing, for a while, what TVP (“textured” vegetable/soy protein) really is. I still did eat meat, but nothing that was obtained from a GROUND-ED UP source. The TVP stuff was rubbery, but that’s not really the point.
The point is, it is NOT food. It is chemically derived, hexane as a major component for its “purification”. Whether “gone”, or not, is this Food we want to ingest? The stuff has been around for a generation — not much longer. That is NOT enough time to have information on it. If you want to play Russian Roulette on TVP because it contains no meat, don’t let me stand in your way. (And yes, at some point I want to create a vegetarian burger recipe that contains… all food.)
Here we make ground beef mini-sliders, to nestle within zucchini slices (YES, getting the veggies in!) or in lettuce wraps.
For the “bread”:
1 or two zucchinis, sliced in 1.4 inch “coins”, ends removed. Two is advised if you want sandwich lids for all your mini sliders.
Olive oil, one or two teaspoons
Rosemary (fresh is best, but I used what I had)
For the meat:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/8 of a large onion, 1/2 of a very small onion, finely diced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric (optional. It doesn’t add much flavor in this specific dish, but I’ve been cooking with it for health reasons.)
1 teaspoon coconut aminos (or tamari soy sauce)
Ground pepper and sea salt, to taste.
Sprouts, mustard, whatever floats your boat.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Layer zucchini on foil in a baking pan, add the rest of the zucchini ingredients, and mix around. Your hands work best. Cover with foil, and bake for about 25 minutes. (Make sure they are spread out a bit.)
Remove and either put on warming tray until the patties are ready, or set aside to re-heat briefly in the skillet, when everything else is ready.
Heat your skillet to medium-medium high, add your oil, then your onions and the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin to toast slightly, and the onions to go translucent. I let them become somewhat carmelized, as well.
In a mixing bowl or separate large plate, combine all ingredients, again this works best with your hands. (Yes, allow the onions and cumin to cool a bit before you mix everything.) Make your mini-patties about the size of meatballs, only flat. Perhaps half an inch max in thickness, and you can press in a dimple in the center before cooking.
At this point, you can reserve some of these to cook later (cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day).
The skillet shouldn’t need more oil. Go ahead and pan fry your mini burgers to your choice of level of done-ness, at medium heat. You shouldn’t need to press down on them while cooking — that extracts too much juice. For medium rare, I seemed to need three to three and a half minutes a side.
At the end, remove sliders as they are done, add in the zucchini if it needs to be warmed (hey, unlike me, you might get your timing to coincide!)
In the initial photo in this post, I showed the sliders sitting on the bottom zucchini slices, topped with home grown daikon radish sprouts, with out the top lids, seen to the side, just for illustration purposes. The top pieces of zucchini definitely went on top before serving.
These make great appetizers for company. I would however, if having a party, make sure the zucchini and the meat stay attached by using toothpicks to hold them together.
I only had one zucchini in the house (worth eating; we won’t say what the other looked like), so the other mini sliders eventually ended up being in lettuce wraps.