For the last 11 years, I’ve lived in an apartment without a single square inch of outdoor space to call my own. Most of the time, this isn’t a hardship, as it means no leaves to rake in the fall and no snow to shovel in the winter.
Really, there’s just one thing I miss about having a patch of the outdoors and that’s having the space in which to set up a grill. However, I’ve found that there are even ways to work around my lack of outdoor space. Thanks to a sturdy grill pan, a countertop griddle, and generous friends with backyard Webers, I always manage to get my warm-weather grilling fix.
Since my access to a true charcoal flame is relatively limited, I like to ensure that I don’t waste my time on basic burgers. Instead, I boost the flavor aggressively. Currently, my favorite beef burger has cubes of cheddar cheese and chopped chipotle in adobo blended into the meat. On the poultry front, I’ve found that a turkey burger with chopped basil and minced green onion is the way to go (I like to top that one with sautéed mushrooms and melted Havarti cheese).
And though I’m not a vegetarian, I do like to be sure that there’s something tasty for my meatless friends. Over the years, I’ve found my way to a particularly satisfying black bean burger that works at any cookout. The secret is a cook, chill, and grill process.
This means that the night (or morning before) you plan on grilling, you make the burger mix, cook it into patty shapes in a greased skillet until browned on both sides and then chill to set. What you’re left with is a homemade bean burger that tastes great and doesn’t fall to pieces when placed on the old BBQ. They can also be made in larger batches and frozen for spur of the moment grilling occasions.
Cheddar and Chipotle Burgers
1 pound ground beef
½ cup cubed cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced chipotle in adobo
½ teaspoon sea salt
5-6 twists of a pepper grinder
Place ground beef in a medium bowl. Add the cubed cheese, chipotle, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix all ingredients to combine. When the burger mixture is well-combined, form four patties.
These burgers are best cooked on a grill surface (outdoor grill, grill pan, or electric countertop grill). Cook 4-5 minutes on either side, until the outside is browned and there is only a hint of pink on the inside. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 burgers.
Turkey Burgers with Basil and Green Onions
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat is best for burgers)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2-3 green onions, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
5-6 turns of a pepper grinder
4 slices Havarti cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1 12-ounce package of mushrooms
Place ground turkey in a medium bowl. Add the basil, green onions, salt, and pepper and mix to combine. When burger mixture is well-combined, form four patties.
These burgers are best cooked on a grill surface (outdoor grill, grill pan, or electric countertop grill). Cook 4-5 minutes on either side, until there is no pink remaining inside and an instant read thermometer reads 165°F. Remove burgers from heat source, put them on a plate, and drape with cheese slices.
Melt butter in a skillet. Slice mushrooms and sauté until well browned. Spoon cooked mushrooms over the burgers. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 burgers.
Homemade Black Bean Burgers
1 15-ounce can black beans (if you cook them from scratch, use scant 2 cups)
½ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup cracker crumbs
1-2 pickled jalapeno peppers or pepperoncini
5 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup loosely packed basil or flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup frozen corn
Place an ungreased skillet over medium heat. Rinse black beans well and pour them into the pan. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until beans are dry. Pour them into the bowl of a food processor.
Rinse skillet and return it to the stove. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat and when it shimmers, add chopped onion to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion until it is brown and fragrant. Add the cooked onion to the beans in the food processor.
Add cracker crumbs, egg, peppers, garlic, herbs, salt, and ground pepper to the processor. Pulse to mix. Once the mixture is fairly smooth, add corn to the food processor and pulse 5-6 times, to incorporation without pulverizing.
Rinse skillet and place over medium heat. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and heat to a shimmer. Form bean burger batter into four patties, placing them into the skillet after each is formed.
Cook over medium heat until burgers are browned and have formed a crust, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook on remaining side.
When burgers are done, remove from pan and place on plate. Let cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to grill (they can also be eaten directly from the pan if you have no grilling plans. I like to crumble them over a bowl of baby greens).
To freeze, stack with a slip of parchment paper between each burger. Wrap in plastic and place in a zip top bag.
For even heartier burgers, stir ½ cup cooked grain (like quinoa, wheatberries or barley) into bean mix prior to patty forming.