Friday, August 8, 2008

Buffalo Stampede!

So, I was rolling down the Oregon Trail the other day, minding my own business, when all of a sudden these buffalo come out of nowhere and overrun our entire camp. There I was, lounging on a sleeping buffalo when it hit me: what do you do when you have too much buffalo? Make burgers! Brilliant...

So the main thing to remember with buffalo is that it is really, really lean. This means that it's difficult to make your burgers moist, and that what you put on the grill is more or less what you will be taking off the grill. These burgers aren't going to lose 20% of their mass as the fat drips off, so just be aware of that. My solution to the issue posed by reduced fat content is, of course, add more fat.

Baadasssss Burgers:
Fuck Yeah
Serves 2 MEN (about 6 1/2-lb burgers)


2 lbs ground buffalo (they sell it at Shaw's, pre-packaged)
1 lb ground beef (80%-85% lean)

Structure (i.e. if you're looking to tweak this recipe, don't look here)
2 large eggs
3-4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp BBQ sauce (something smokey or spicy depending on what vibe you're going for, I actually like the classic KC Masterpiece-processed-plastic-bottle-standard-issue sauce for burgers)
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 med white onion, chopped fine
1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped celery
lots of freshly ground black pepper - basically, pepper to taste, but don't be shy here
few pinches of salt

lots of grated cheese - there's some wiggle room here in terms of flavor. This cheese is going inside the patty - the grease will keep the burger moist as it cooks, and hitting a pocket of cheese when you're eating a burger is fantastic.
Some cheeses to consider
- Cheddar - classic burger cheese, melts nicely
- Mozzarella - stringy when it melts, which is nice
- Parmigiano-Reggiano - sharp, good flavor

honestly, I'd reccommend mixing all of them together. I would avoid using American or Jack, however. I am all for using these cheeses to top the burger, but when they melt inside the patty, they become one with the meat, and you loose the effect.

Whatever you feel like

This is the part that kind of sucks if the meat is really cold, but there's really no way around it. Break out your meat into a large mixing bowl. Wash up your hands and start kneading it all together. Crack in the eggs, and mix in the olive oil. Once that's all mixed, add the BBQ sauce, and the rest of the seasoning. Add pepper last, to sort of top off the flavors. Form the patties into about six even disks.
With your pile of cheese ready for action, work the disks around in your hand to flatten them out more, forming a kind of meat pancake. drop a generous pinch of the cheese blend into the middle of the disk, and fold the disk in half. Seal the edges with your fingers and press and reshape the patty into something respectable.

Low(er) Fat
Now, nothing beats a real grill, with real fire. The flavor that you get from direct exposure to that kind of heat, and the added tang of innumerable exotic carcinogens is irreplaceable in the burger world. That said, I've made these on a Foreman grill before, and they still taste pretty damn good, so if you don't have fire, it's not a big deal. Grill the patties to your liking. For 1/2 lb patties (of which there should be about 6 from this recipe), about 8 minutes will be as done as I'd want them. Some push it up to 10 minutes. I don't talk to them. Remember to cook them EVENLY - that means turn them... more than once.
High Fat
A personal favorite - this is an alternate method for cooking the burgers that retains much more of the fat that makes this nation great. Crack out a 12" skillet and heat up ~1 tbsp olive oil with medium to medium high heat depending on your stove (only add olive oil once, the burgers will provide the lube thereafter). Lay down your first couple of burgers, and let them sizzle. I usually cook them for ~4 minutes a side in total, and then drain off the grease and let them brown up a little on each side. Repeat. This method puts out some exceptionally juicy (if exceptionally rich) burgers.

Dress with cheese, ketchup, and whatever else turns you on. Word.

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