Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sliders, Grinders, and Chips

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Orchard Pond Organics has partnered with local farms to provide grass-fed beef of varying cuts and cheeses. Junior Chef #1 decided that we should make "sliders" for dinner. This sounded like a terrific idea - any excuse to eat 3+ burgers at one sitting. But then came the wrinkle: not only were we to make ground beef sliders, but "bratger" sliders, too. I figured we should go all the way and make homemade potato chips, too. At some point, I figure the fat molecules glide over one another and straight through your body - never having a real chance at being absorbed. Then again, I'm an optimist.

So we purchased 2# of Red Bridge ground beef along with our CSA share, then headed to the grocery store to buy pork, potatoes, and buns. I settled on a 3# nice Boston Butt, and decided to make breakfast sausage from half and bratgers from the other half.

The Method (Bratgers)
My first attempt at bratwurst burgers (bratgers) resulted in an overly-spiced sausage mix, and struggles with grinding the meat. After a quick Google search, I discovered that placing the seasoned meat in the freezer for a half-hour before grinding might address the latter problem. As for the seasoning, I decided to make do on my own.

  1. Cube 1# pork (1/2 - 1# pieces is fine).
  2. 3-4 slices salt pork, roughly chopped
  3. Create a brat spice mixture:
    • 1 tsp white pepper, ground
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
    • 1/2 tsp allspice (I didn't have nutmeg, or I would have used that)
    • 1 tsp sage, ground/rubbed
    • 1/4 tsp coriander, ground
    • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  4. Combine the meat and spices throughly.
  5. Place in freezer for 1/2 hour.
  6. Grind.
The Method (Sliders)
There's not much of a story to tell about preparing the beef sliders. I added a little salt and pepper, a shake of garlic powder, and 1 TB of horseradish to 1# of meat.
I prepared 5 small patties from both the bratger and beef mixtures.
  1. Melt 2 TB butter on a griddle
  2. Add 1 onion, thickly sliced.
  3. Place the patties among the onions. Flatten with your spatula.
We added blue cheese to a few of the beef sliders after flipping.
The Method (Chips)
swissmar-mandolineIf you don't own a mandolin, making homemade potato chips gives you the perfect excuse to buy one. They are not terribly expensive, and make the preparation of thinly-sliced veggies a snap. They consist of a sharp V-shaped blade set into a plastic or stainless steel surface. A hand guard allows you to work the food quickly across the blade without losing a finger. Some are adjustable to enable you to prepare julienne cuts, or to vary the thickness of the slices.

We used russet potatoes and produced the thinnest slices possible (.75 MM).

We fried these in 375 degree oil for 6-8 minutes per batch. (Don't overcrowd them.) We salted them lightly after draining on newspaper.

The Results
What is there not to love? Topped with the grilled onions, a little mustard, and a dab of pickle relish, sliders are tiny packets of finger-licking goodness. Better yet, we have leftovers - so they'll join us for another meal very soon. Sadly, none of the chips made it - in fact, none lasted but a few moments after hitting the newspaper. Starches receive no quarter here.

The bratger seasoning was a marked improvement over the original version. And, yes, slightly freezing the meat made all the difference: it ground easily and didn't bind up or become gummy in the grinder.

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009