Monday, May 14, 2012

Stuffed Burgers (& More!)

 My sister sent Andy and me a little contraption that helps you make stuffed burgers. Since we're trying to plow through our perishable food before our big move (3 weeks!), this allowed us to cook up 2 pounds of beef and a package of bacon I found in the bottom of the big freezer.
To go along with our meal, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try my hand at making homemade buns. They turned out a little small for our giant burgers, but otherwise great!
To add a little more fun and entertainment to my day in the kitchen, I put my ipod on my little speaker set.

My first job of the day was to prepare the bacon. A lot of people don't know that you can do this in the oven and avoid making a mess of the stove top. This is especially ideal because my stove has a self-cleaning feature, so any bubbling grease from the bacon that splatters is cleaned up easily.

All you need to do is cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and lay out the bacon strips. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes. It should look almost done, and depending on how well cooked you like it, you might keep it out. 

Flip the bacon with pair of tongs and return to the oven. You can tell from the above photo that the pan on the left had been on my bottom rack and the one on the right had been on my upper rack. I switched them at this point. I put the timer on for 5 more minutes, and ended up taking out the pan on the left earlier than the pan on the right. Neither stayed in the oven for more than 5 more minutes. 

Voila, tasty, crispy bacon. Let the pans cool and then pull up the aluminum foil with the cooled fat/grease (unless you save it to use later) and toss in the garbage. Makes for easier cleaning of the pans, but certainly doesn't prevent them from getting greasy.

I thought it was appropriate to use my psudo-oven mitt that's shaped like a pig to take the pans out of the oven. Cute, right?

ETA 6/17/2012: I baked bacon in my new oven in my new house and the cook time was very different from the last house (old oven). Just keep at it and you'll figure out what works for your oven!

My second project for the day was to bake Homemade Buns. I worked off of the Beautiful Burger Buns recipe over at The instructions are woefully simple, but since I've made bread before I know how to deal with the ingredients and dough. I'll write what I did here:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes (optional)
  • 3 1/4 cups flour (I used a mix of all-purpose and bread)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Sprinkle the yeast in the warm water and let it dissolve until foamy. 
  2. Stir, and add ONE egg, the melted butter, sugar, salt, and onion powder and flakes if using. Mix all that up together 
  3. Dump in the flour and mix with a kitchen mixer or knead by hand until "soft and smooth"--which is what the instructions said. The more you knead, the tougher it gets because the more flour you need to add to make it stop sticking. My dough wasn't totally stiff nor was it completely smooth, but it was good enough after a couple of minutes of hand kneading. Just as long as it can hold its own (not too floppy or runny) and the flour is mixed in without lumps, you should be good. 
  4. Lightly grease a bowl and roll the ball of dough around to get it covered with a little oil. Cover and let rise for one hour.
Before the rise.

After the rise.
You can't see much of a difference in the photos, but it's there!

      5. After the dough has risen, divide into 8 pieces. I think it's easiest to lay it out in a sort of rectangle and then take a bench scraper and cut into equal sections. I did a poor job of this (see below) because I only used a plate rather than the counter top or large cutting board to lay it out, and I don't have a bench scraper so I used a steak knife instead. It worked, but if I was going to make buns all the time I might invest in one. Then shape into a flat-ish ball. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise another 30-40 minutes.


        6. Preheat oven at 375 degrees. 
        7. Brush the tops of the buns with the lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
        8. Bake the buns for 12-15 minutes, until they'regolden brown.

        9. Split and use for burgers! (or sandwiches)

The third challenge of the day was to make the Stuffed Burgers. Erin and Andrew sent us a Sur La Table Stuff-a-Burger Press. Overall it worked pretty well and the only real complaint I'd have is that you have to use HALF A POUND of meat PER BURGER! Needless to say I only ate about half of mine. Half a pound of meat is fine for Andy to handle though! I imagine it'd be tough to make a stuffed burger with less meat, but this was only my first try and I can always experiment!

We decided that, based on what ingredients we had in the house, that we'd make two kinds of stuffed burgers: cheddar & avocado and blue cheese & bacon. 
The burger press shapes your burger makes an indentation in your burger for you to fill up with stuffing. It's not too fancy but it doesn't need to be. It's easier than trying to make one without it, but it could probably be managed by any determined person without a press anyway. 

And there you have it. Out of 2 pounds of ground beef, we get 4 stuffed burgers. BIG stuffed burgers. This would be great for a guy's football party or something. 

Some of our burgers did fall apart while grilling. Andy thinks maybe next time he'll use breadcrumbs. People say not to use them, but his dad always does and his never fall apart and taste fine. Then again, they aren't stuffed either. It'll be worth a try!

Toasting the buns.

You can see my avocado & cheese stuffed one fell apart. But it still tasted good!
We were going to have grilled corn on the cob with them, but decided the burgers were so big we probably wouldn't eat it anyway. So we just stuck with some cole slaw on the side instead. And next time...bigger buns!


I hope you give some of these projects a try sometime!

Update 5/25/2012: I made these buns for a bbq today. They turned out wonderfully. I made two separate batches of dough rather than one double-batch because I thought it'd be easier to divide them equally into buns that way!