Saturday, 6 November 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner... Burger!

We actually only shop every two weeks, with emergency runs in between. Pickings do get slim when it gets close to shopping day, but I take that as a challenge. Anyone can make dinner with everything they could possibly need on hand. Using your imagination to make a great dinner from you bare fridge gives such a feeling of accomplishment. (I use the term empty loosely - the fridge is actually packed with about 82,000 different kinds of condiments. Does anyone else have this problem? Am I alone in wanting a separate condiment fridge?)

So when I read that my friend Kim thought we should to a Thanksgiving Dinner.. Burger Challenge - it was kismet. I had ground turkey in the freezer, leftover cranberry sauce and about 10 mushrooms. One lonely acorn squash in the basket and some good-old baby spinach. I can do this!

Okay, so making the turkey burgers is easy enough, and I can top them with the spinach and cranberry sauce.. what about a mushroom gravy? Perfect. I do it by eye, but I included a recipe below - just make a smaller amount, and thicker, if you are doing a small amount of burgers.
And the all-important stuffing element. What if we could find some buns that tasted like stuffing? I looked through Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads and immediately found Sage and Celery bread. I made the recipe into buns. Do you see how all the stars were aligned in this?
The burger was fantastic. What a great idea. Why don't you give it a try? Or even make your own spin on Thanksgiving dinner.. burger.

Turkey Burgers
The main thing to worry about is cooking the burger through without drying it out. Also, turkey has less fat, which means that it likes an egg to bind it, and it also cools faster.
To the ground turkey I added - kosher salt, cracked black pepper, sautéed onions, apple - diced small, dried thyme, an egg, a pinch of dried sage and panko breadcrumbs. The amounts you need will depend on how much meat you start out with, and you can adjust to taste and texture.
*We grilled the burgers and the buns, we also put a little mayo on the buns.. because we like mayo.

Mushroom Gravy 
about 4 Cups

    * 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
    * 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
    * 1/3 cup flour
    * 1 quart cold beef, chicken or vegetable stock or broth
    * 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    * salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring for 10 minutes, or until the mushroom juices have evaporated, and they've begun to brown. Stir in the flour, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Whisk in 1 cup of the cold broth. Once incorporated, pour in the rest of the broth, and add the thyme. Bring back to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Note: For thicker gravy, turn heat up to medium, and reduce to desired thickness. For thinner gravy, simply add more broth.

Cranberry Sauce

    * 1 cup white sugar
    * 1 cup orange juice
    * 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

   1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries, and cook until they start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. *I add a cinnamon stick to the pot and take it out when it cools.

Acorn Squash
Split the squash in two to get two little squash boats. (Lengthwise)
Poke the flesh (not the skin) a few times with a fork (this helps the butter and seasonings get in the flesh)
Salt and pepper them, add a sprinkling of brown sugar and a tbsp of butter.
Bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until tender. Brush the butter-sugar mixture up along the tender sides once in a while.
Cut each boat in half and serve - ¼ squash is one serving.

These buns have been Yeastspotted!
Sage and Celery Buns
adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

  • 3 to 3½ cups bread of all-purpose flour, approximately
  • 1 pkg instant dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup non-fat dry milk
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 cup hot water (120°-130°F)
  • 2 Tbsp shortening, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • Butter, melted, or milk
In a stand mixer, stir together 1½ cups of the flour and all the remaining dry ingredients. Pour in the hot water, add shortening and egg and combine with flat beater for 2 minutes. Switch to dough hook and start adding the remaining flour, as much of it as you need, a quarter cup at a time, until you have a cohesive dough.
Knead on a lightly floured board for about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, place in a lightly floured bowl and let rise, covered, for one hour.
Divide dough into six equal portions, form into balls, seam side down, and place (spaced equally apart) on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Press down with your palm to make burger-bun shapes. Cover and let rise 50 minutes.
20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400°F.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are nicely golden and they are cooked through. Rotate pan after the first 10 minutes.
Brush hot buns with milk or melted butter to get a nice sheen and tender top. Cool on racks.