If you remember from a month or so ago, I left Jean-Georges and decided to pursue stagiaire positions at several restaurants before Lisa and I head back to Seattle. I started my first stage last week at Del Posto with their very talented pastry chef, Nicole Kaplan. I feel like this kitchen is good fit for me and I’m looking forward to spending six weeks with them. As for my next stage… I’m not sure yet. I need to go out and trail at some more restaurants to figure out where I might want to spend some more time.
Speaking of time, I have had a bit more of that on my hands this past month. Some of that extra time has been funneled into cooking at home more often. One dinner in particular was a very big success. Lisa just couldn’t stop talking about it (and I’m pretty pleased with the results as well). I stopped by the butcher shop, one of the few left in the city, and picked up a mixture of ground beef and pork to use for hamburgers. This is something I’ve discovered recently and I really never plan to go back to just plain beef burgers. The addition of the pork really makes a difference.
Since Lisa will only eat burgers on actual buns (not sliced bread), I either had to go to the grocery store and buy the buns or make them myself. Since I had the time, I decided to make my own buttermilk buns. The buns turned out a little smaller than I anticipated, not quite full-size but not quite “slider” size either. This is why I decided to call them Burgerlets instead of burgers or sliders.
The toppings for the burgers were goat cheese, carmalized onions, tomato “jam”, fig jam, mayo, and lettuce. I slowly carmelized the onions and then finished them off with some red wine. We didn’t have any slicing tomatoes, just little assorted cherry tomatoes. I decided to make a jam out of them, however I didn’t want to have to cook the tomatoes down and lose that fresh tomato taste. So instead I chopped up the tomatoes, put them in a strainer, salted them, and let the juices drain off. I then thickened the tomato juice using xanthan gum and added it back to the tomato solids. This created a tomato “jam” that was thick enough to stay put in the burger but still had the fresh tomato flavor. The fig jam I had made a few days earlier as a way to save some black mission figs that were almost expired. Actually, they had just started to mold but the great part about making a jam is that you boil it and kill off the little bit of mold that started to grow. I learned that trick at JG where we would save all the mushy and slightly moldy berries to be boiled down and made into sorbet. Here’s a picture of the final product.
And a shot of the sweet potato fries as they cooled after the initial blanching.