Monday, February 10, 2014

Fen you make a burger, fenugreek!

The hamburger has been perfected hundreds of times- no matter what your personal tastes are, there's a burger out there that is exactly the way you like it. For me, that's a Max and Erma's Garbage Burger. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a burger with 3 kinds of cheese, marinara, guacamole, mushrooms, onions, tomato, lettuce and god only knows what else. In short, it's amazing. I've never even tried to recreate it at home, because that's one of the things I don't think that I could improve on. However, that doesn't stop me from trying different things with my burgers!

And it actually looks like this.

After buying a bunch of different spices at Whole Foods a few weeks ago (see my turmeric soup post) I wanted to use one of the spices in a burger, but which? Checking the aroma of each one, I decided that the most interesting one was going to be fenugreek. For Lisa, I decided to use the Chipotle Chili Powder.

Fenugreek is an interesting spice. Used primarily in Middle-Eastern and Indian cuisine, it's similar to but totally different than curry. The smell is very sweet, but the taste is more on the savory end of the spectrum. The color is a dark mustard yellow, and in my case, it was ground up into a very fine powder.
Aromatic as hell.
I had a couple small top round steaks that I was going to grind up, so I sliced them up and put them in, and topped it off with about two tablespoons of fenugreek and started to grind it up. The smell immediately hits you, and it is absolutely amazing. Because the meat was relatively well marbled, I didn't add any egg, breadcrumbs, or any other filler. The meat and spice made a very malleable and easily-formed mixture. I set mine aside and cleaned out the food processor to work on Lisa's.

The idea that I had for hers was to make a spicy burger, top it with smoked cheddar and sauteed onions, then smother it in some of my leftover homemade chili. I put the beef into the processor, then added some chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper powder, onion powder, and seasoned salt. After letting it all meld together in the food processor, I opened it up to inspect, and the results caught me by surprise. It smelled Exactly. Like. Chili. Cheese. Fritos. I'm not talking "similar to" or "reminds me of." I'm talking about having a bag of them right in front of you. She was going to LOVE it.

Being the middle of winter in Ohio, grilling outside was not part of the equation. I used a regular pan on the stove top and brought the meat up to temperature very, very slowly. I like my burgers on the rare side, so the last thing I wanted to do was get them to medium, or *gasp*, medium-well. They take longer, sure, but cooking them on the stove top lets have absolute control over how they cook, and as an added benefit, you can get a little bit of a crunchy exterior to the burger, which is both unexpected and incredibly yummy.

After getting the burgers to the right done-ness, I put them each onto a bun, topped mine with sauteed mushrooms, a tomato, then some buttermilk ranch dressing (side note: the buttermilk ranch from Aldi is one of the best i've ever had, and I would certainly call myself a Ranch Connoisseur) then Lisa's was topped with sauteed onions and a generous portion of chili.

Judging by how Lisa ate her burger with the quickness, I could only surmise that she was a fan. Mine was delicious- the fenugreek was a perfect compliment to the meat, and really made a regular burger feel exotic. I think that fenugreek will find it's way into my regular rotation- there are so many other things that I could see using this on, especially seafood.

What I learned from this was to experiment- I had never had fenugreek before and bought it based on smell. Go and explore spices, smell them, buy something that smells good, and use something you've never tried before! The only way to expand your horizons is to go where you've never gone.

1 comment:

  1. I like to experiment with new spices as well, except when I do I like to use them in omelettes. It does not always work out, but when it good. A couple of my favorites turned out to be Old Bay, and Curry powder. I really love to taste of curry powder, so I am looking forward to trying Fenugreek. I will definitely be looking for it on my next trip to Penzeys.