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Sunday Night Food Thread (SNiFT) - July 17, 2016

It's Sunday Night...okay more like some random point on Sunday, time to talk food with your fellow Texans fans.

"See, if UT just added some grains of paradise to his spice rub, it'd turn that burger right around."
"See, if UT just added some grains of paradise to his spice rub, it'd turn that burger right around."
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

As I've mentioned in previous SNiFT posts, during the summer there's a tradition in my house to try to create a new burger recipe that's unique, tasty, and can be completed, from starting the grill to finished assembly, in 60 minutes.  It's simply known in these parts as BurgerLab; and it's all a part of the Build A Better Burger competition presented by [SPONSOR REDACTED BECAUSE THEY AIN'T PAYING US JACK].

When BurgerLab is going on, it tends to be a very iterative process, so we have one at least once a week and rarely more than that because rushing around to make fancy hamburgers in under an hour is exhausting.

Unlike the last post, I actually have pictures of the last two BurgerLab sessions to make notes on and, for the purposes of this post, to annoy y'all with.

There are no images from the first one, which is just as well because the recipe has changed significantly from the first attempt.

Taste of Texas Burger v. 2.0

Taste of Texas v. 2.0


This is a change from the original recipe in that there is no beer-braised cabbage and onions this time.  I opted instead to simply cook the onions in bacon grease, then braise them quickly in beer and coat them in brown mustard.  In retrospect, it might be a bit overkill, but the onions taste good, so I left it in.

The red pepper you see on the other half of the bun is supposed to be a relish of green tomatoes (substituted with tomatillos because nobody sells green tomatoes up here, at all, ever, and when you ask, people look at you like you've got six heads or something), but I had the "genius" idea to roast the green tomatoes (tomatillos) before adding them to the relish.  The result being that they turned into a revolting gloop that barely made it into the final product because they disintegrated on me.

Under the red peppers is a special homemade jalapeno pesto which, oddly enough, in v. 2.0, wasn't all that spicy.  It was a little too garlicky and too salty; due to the salt, I added on top of a new ingredient, a very salty cheese.

The patty includes a blend of ground peppers, coffee, brown sugar, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce.  While the patties were juicy, I still didn't get that kick of coffee flavoring in the patty.  Maybe this requires a bulking up of that particular ingredient to add a slight bitterness to the recipe.

The overall result was that the burger was really good, but with a few things that needed to be fixed.  Specifically, the bacon was cooked too long and became distractingly crunchy, the pesto wasn't hot enough and too salty, the green tomato relish had a distinct lack of green tomato, and it all took way longer than 60 minutes to make.

Taste of Texas Burger v. 3.0 (current version)

Taste of Texas Burger v. 3.0


Having learned lessons from last week, this time I dispensed with roasting the green tomatoes (tomatillos for reasons already stated), instead just chopping them up roughly and adding it to the relish.  The troubling part is that the flavor of the relish seems to get buried under all the other flavors going on in the burger.  I wonder if part of that is because the pesto was a lot hotter this time and I lost the relish flavor due to the heat.

The onions essentially remain the same, although I cooked more this time, since there weren't enough onions the last go-around to make six burgers.

The pesto was hotter this time than last time by quite a bit.  Almost too much, I would say.  I realized after the fact that I left out a major component of the pesto, which would account for why it was so much hotter and why it seemed like there was a lot less in the processor this time than last time, despite there being more jalapenos in this batch of pesto.

The patty remained largely unchanged save for one ingredient.  I thought about ways to give the burger a smoky flavoring the way you would get out of brisket, thus adding a barbecue aspect to the burger and increasing the Texas-ness (yeah, I just made that up) of the patty.  Since smoking hamburgers would be impossible to accomplish in 60 minutes, I added some liquid smoke to the meat before cooking.  The liquid smoke had the desired effect, but my test subjects said that there might have been too much liquid smoke in the meat this time, so I might have to consider reducing it by half for v. 4.0.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to food-wise this week.  Thoughts?  Also, what kind of foodstuffs (ha!  I slay me) have you been up to or will be up to this week or in the future?  Share in the comments.  As always, pants are optional (but recommended near the grill), the usual commenting rules do apply, void where prohibited, see store for details.