Memorial Day Cookout Madness

Hello dear Readers, long time no…….nothing.  I have been on a hiatus of sorts (I didn’t know that is what is was going to be when it started but that is how it turned out….kind of like some of my  best dishes). I was lucky enough to take a trip to the beach for Mother’s Day, visit my Dad, watch some great golf and stuff my face with seafood (salmon, sea bass, oysters and mahi-mahi in one weekend).  Then I went to Texas on business where I found a nice divey BBQ joint a few miles from the construction site I was visiting.  Love me a plate of brisket with 2 sides, Texas style!

But alas I am home from my travels in time for a long weekend of cookouts and the company of friends and family.  This was the perfect opportunity to blog because I was asked to bring a side dish to my neighbors cookout and my neighbor makes great pulled pork.  I thought my green beans slow cooked all day in the crock pot sounded like the perfect companion to pulled pork and macaroni and cheese.  Off I went to the local Safeway whose beans were pathetic looking.  But their collard greens looked tasty…….

So I bought 3 pounds of greens, trimmed the stems and chopped the greens.  Cooked it just like I would green beans–in 3 quarts of homemade chicken stock, with a diced Vidalia onion and a large pork shank.  Let it simmer on low in my crock pot with some salt and pepper for about 6 hours.  They were amazing–the peppery flavor of the greens in the savory goodness of the pork infused stock….I cannot tell you how many people at the party 1) discovered they are a fan of greens 2) asked for the recipe and 3) could not believe how easy the recipe was!

I decided to throw an impromptu cook out at the Casa on Monday.  I asked everyone to bring a side dish and something for the bar.  My friends and neighbors did not disappoint!  I grilled hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken sausages and brats.  But my cheeseburgers are not your standard fare….my cheeseburgers are a cut above!  I will digress just a moment now to tell you that I prepared a version of these cheeseburgers for my Dad on Mother’s Day who pronounced them “the best cheeseburger he may have ever had.”  Not an exaggeration.  If you know Papa Ron ask him if he said that.  Go do it now.  I will wait.

OK so back to my cheeseburgers.  First a confession–these are not really MY cheeseburgers.  A dear friend, who is also an amazing cook, made these for me at a pool party at her house years ago and I have been making them ever since.  So to you Caroline at Fancy Farm, a shout out!

Start by whisking 2 eggs, add a handful of bread crumbs, a handful of finely chopped fresh spinach, a handful of finely chopped green onions, a tub of feta cheese, 1/2 jar of minced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, a squirt of Worcestershire sauce, a squirt of mustard (yellow or brown), kosher salt, cracked pepper and 2 lbs of ground sirloin/beef/chuck (you already have the fat from the oil and the eggs for binding so OK to go lean with the meat).

Mix together with your hands and form the burgers into balls, pressing the thumb into the burger to create a well in the middle (this keeps the burger from cooking inconsistently).  Prepare your grill with Olive Oil spray and get it nice and hot.  Avoid turning them too much as the burger can tend to instability.  Cook to desired temperature.

I like mine on a bun with a pickle and smear of mayo and a drop of yellow mustard. But honestly these things are tasty with no bun and no condiments.  How many burgers can say that?  Lastly, thank you to our veterans and our service men and women fighting for our right to live free and stuff our faces on the last Monday of every May.  God Bless America!

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