Friday, August 24, 2012

A summer pattie

This might sound like heresy, but I was never a fan of the typical summer cookout. And now, with the information out there about what gets encased into a hot dog or the pink slime that makes hamburger helper seem like a whole grain extender I am glad to have had a contrary response to a summer picnic table. I realize I was having the same reaction to these foods as I would to a fast food meal and not surprising because thrown on the backyard grill or packaged as a happy meal these were the same products.

Not to sound too un-American I do love a well-made sausage, however, it is usually from a small batch butcher -- how I carve the smoked pheasant sausage of Quattro Farms from New York State. A heaping of grainy mustard and I am good to go. A burger on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. I needed to be deeply hangover before I found myself jaws unhinged eating a burger – and it has been decades since I have gotten that blotto. I do like to participate in rituals though, I do find myself making burgers just never pre-formed. It is too simple to buy the ground meat (I usually go for buffalo, pork or chicken) and concoct my own with a liberal seasoning of fresh herbs and perhaps smoked paparika. Fish versions require the additional step of grinding up the meat in the food process before moving forward with an idea. Plus, I don’t like the burger to be about the “pilings” on and the subsequent mess I will make. No, I want the meat to stand on it own with it own unique flavors. A simple garnishment will do, thank you.

Tilapia Burgers – yields 6 pieces
1-pound tilapia – roughly chopped (shrimp maybe substituted)
2-tablespoons Texas tarragon leaves
2-teaspoons thyme
1-tablespoon grated ginger
1-celery stalk - minced
2-egg whites
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor place the tilapia and pulse to break the fish down. Add in the tarragon, thyme, ginger and celery and process to fully incorporate into the fish. Remove the fish to a work bowl and mix in the eggs, salt and pepper.

Form the fish into 6 patties, and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour in order to allow them to firm up.

Cook on the grill for about 4 minutes a side, or under the broiler.

Onion-Tomato Relish
1-small red onion
1-teaspoon salt
¼-cup fresh lime juice
1/2-pound ripe tomatoes
1-tablespoon shredded lemon verbena leaves

Cut the onion in half through its root. Slice each half into very thin julienne, and toss with the salt and lime juice. Allow the onion to sit at room room temperature for about 15 to 30 minutes.

Slice the tomatoes into thin strips and toss into the onions along with the verbena leaves. 

Serve at room temperature or cold.

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