Saturday, October 13, 2018

Grilled Pub Burger

After 66 years on this planet, I have decided that 2018 is the year that I will no longer surrender to winter. Every year before this one, I have given up my grill to the ravages of what is winter in Minnesota. I love cooking over charcoal, but ice and snow drifts have aways made it a bridge too far.

Not this year. First, I invested in a Heat Trak snow melting mat. It measures 36" X 60" and sits right outside of the kitchen slider to my deck. When the temperature drops, the mat turns on and heats itself. It is capable of melting 2" of snow per hour. This will insure that I have a snow-free area to do my winter grilling.

Next, I bought myself an 18" Weber Smokey Joe grill with a locking, portable charcoal table. It has 3 levers which lock the grill to the table top. I can store it right outside my kitchen slider, under the eaves to protect it from the elements. When I want to cook, I can just swing it around and set it on the heated mat. Essentially, I get to stand indoors while I cook. Winter grilling at it's best!

I like my burgers served up two ways. If they are skinny burgers, I always cook them in a cast iron pan. There is nothing that works better for putting a world class sear on a burger like a cast iron pan. But skinny burgers are usually around 4-ounces....just skinny enough that you don't have to worry about the center cooking through.

Pub burgers are an entirely different story. They are typically 8-ounces, so you have to make and cook them differently. I like my pub burgers just as I like my steaks...medium rare. But you cannot do that with store bought ground beef. Store bought ground beef uses many different parts of the animal, so to be safe, you have to cook it to 165º, which is well done. A medium rare burger is 130º.

There is only one way to create a pub burger that is safe to eat. You have to grind the meat yourself. You start with whole cut of beef and use your food processor to coarsely grind the meat. Because you are the only one to have processed the meat, you know that it will be safe to eat medium rare.

To make a pub burgers, you start with a cut of beef. You can use sirloin, chuck roast or just about any cut that has about 25% fat content or greater. Fat equals flavor, so do not skimp in the fat department. My favorite cut to make pub burgers is short rib. And because we are using such a high quality meat, we don't need a bunch of seasonings to add flavor. All you need for this beef-forward pub burger is salt and pepper. As they say at Culver's...welcome to delicious!

2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 egg roll hamburger buns, sliced


  1. Prepare your grill for cooking with two zones: one for direct cooking over high heat and one for indirect cooking.
  2. Put the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut the beef into 4 chunks. Place in food processor and pulse until the beef is coarsely ground.(Note: Do not over grind the meat. You want it coarse.)
  4. With a light touch, form the beef into 4 patties. Do not compress the beef. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Place burgers directly over the coals. Cover grill and cook for 4 minutes. Flip burgers, cover grill and cook for 4 more minutes. Then move burgers to indirect side of grill. Cover grill and cook for 4 more minutes.,
  6. Remove burgers from grill. Tent with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Place burgers on buns and serve with your favorite condiments.

Pairing: A pilsner, please.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Monday, October 8, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef Tips with Mushroom Gravy

I'm a huge fan of slow cookers. They make meal prep a breeze and can turn pieces of a chuck roast into the most tender cuts of beef you'll ever taste. You just let the ingredients slowly cook for 8 hours and then add a little heavy cream at the end. My favorite is to serve the dish over egg noodles, but rice or mashed potatoes are also popular choices.

  • pound cremini mushrooms, halved
  • pounds beef  chuck or arm roast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • medium yellow onion, chopped
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • cup beef broth
  • tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)


1. Place the mushrooms in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker; set aside. Trim off any large pieces of fat from the roast and cut into 2-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl, add 1/3 cup of the flour, the salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the beef and sear until browned on a few sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef, reserving any flour left at the bottom of the bowl of beef.
3. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved beef flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the broth and Worcestershire, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine.
4. Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the beef is fork tender, about 8 hours. About 30 minutes before serving, whisk the cream and remaining 1 tablespoon of flour together in a measuring cup or bowl until smooth. Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve over egg noodles.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

Grogs and Goldie, 1956