Friday, March 5, 2010

friday night burgers and fries

One meal we keep coming back to is some variation on burgers with oven fries. Since spring seems to have come early in the midwest (cross your fingers that it stays), yesterday was the perfect day to dust off the grill and cook some bison patties. Yes, the actual, fiery, outdoor grill. Not the George Foreman. We topped the burgers with our go-to topping, chipotle caramelized onions. I'm not sure whether these are caramelized in the "right" way (see here for a tutorial), but they always turn out very well.

Chipotle Caramelized Onions
adapted from Food Network

1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped, or about 1 tsp dried chipotle chili powder (go easy--you can always add more later!)
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tbsp beef broth, chicken broth, or water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium saute pan and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and cooked down (about 30 minutes). If things begin to stick too much, add another tablespoon or two of water. These keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

bison burger with sharp cheddar, bacon, chipotle caramelized onions, and avocado

I also took the opportunity to try a new recipe for oven fries. The NY Times recipe involved preheating the pan in a very hot oven while preparing the mixture of sweet and red potatoes. This intrigued me. Could the hot pan make for crispier fries? I could not fit all of the potatoes into one pan and grabbed another at the last minute, thus unintentionally conducting a sort of experiment that compared a preheated pan to a pan at room temperature.

The results were varied. As I should have foreseen, the sugar in the sweet potatoes quickly caramelized and then scorched on the preheated pan (you can see some of them in the photo). They turned out better in the cool pan. On the other hand, I preferred the red potato wedges that crisped up in the preheated pan. I could have gotten the same effect in the cool pan if I left them in longer, but the high heat cuts the cooking time down from 40-45 minutes to 25-30. I would definitely recommend this method, but leave out the sweet potatoes.

Oven Fries
adapted from
makes 4-6 servings

2 pounds waxy potatoes, such as red potatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Place in the oven while you prepare the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into wedges that are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick at the thickest point and toss with the olive oil and salt.

Remove the hot pan from the oven, and add the potatoes to the pan in an even layer. Be sure they don't overlap or they won't crisp. They should sizzle. Return to the oven, and lower the heat to 450 degrees. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.

Remove the pan from the oven, and loosen the potatoes from the foil using an offset spatula. Return to the oven and cook for another five minutes. Serve at once, seasoned with more salt if desired.

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