Ranch Burgers: A Sweet Taste of SummerBy Todd • Feb 14th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog
In the mood for a new cheeseburger? Start poking around online and leafing through cookbooks, and it won’t take you long to find all kinds of “secret ingredients” that promise to make your next homemade burger a culinary masterpiece. Hell, this site has a bunch of them. Walnuts, cola, cherries, curry powder, pepperoni: you name it, someone’s probably thrown it in a burger. If all you’ve ever done here is play a few levels of “Zombie Burger” and gawk at pics of the World’s Biggest Cheeseburger, take a minute sometime and click on “Burger Recipes” over there to your right. Lots of tasty ideas for burger lovers of all flavors.
Me, I love mixing it up on a pretty regular basis. Sure, I could just go back over and over to a proven winner like the cheese-stuffed Jucy Lucys I did back in May. Or the simply sensational burgs made with bacon fat from September. But nothing fires me up like lighting some coals and setting off into uncharted culinary waters.
Heading into this past weekend, a rogue winter storm bore down on my normally-fair-weathered Southern town, prompting over-eager TV meteorologists to get their Dopplers in a bunch and incite a citywide panic over the impending “Snowmageddon.” Friday night, we got all of 2 inches. By 10am Saturday, the temps had hit 40 and my kids’ miniature snowman was already wasting away. But the sudden dramatic shift in climate got me thinking about summer. That got me thinking about grilling out. And that, of course, got me thinking about a new burger recipe.
I decided on ranch burgers, a classic-backyard-cookout kind of flavor that I hoped would let me taste some summertime at dinner, even if I had to brush snow off my grill before lighting the charcoal. The thinking is that a packet of ranch dressing mix blended in with the beef patties adds a tangy little zing and results in a supremely juicy burger.
The recipe I used also added minced garlic and bleu cheese crumbles to the mix. Formed up and waiting for the grill, they looked awesome: hefty third-pound patties studded with little bits of ranchy, garlicky, cheesy flavor:
Flipping these babies was a delicate matter. As with any burger with cheese in the mix (the best way to do a cheeseburger, as my grated cheese experiment back in May proved to me), I had some leakage, leaving little melted gobs of cheesy goodness stuck on the cooking grates. I also had some minor breakage in a few patties. And while they ended up holding together, I wished I had popped them in the fridge (or even the freezer) for 15 or 20 minutes while the coals ashed over.
After a 5-minute rest off the grill, my burgs were now sitting on a bed of baby spinach atop homestyle buns. I could almost smell the chlorine of the pool and hear the ice cream man off in the distance. “Snowpocalypse,” my ass. Tonight, it was summer again, with ranch burgers hot off the grill.