Scrolling the Book of Face and a friend of mine shared one of those Not-to-be-named Food Videos. I swear, either I’m repulsed, confused or just….left hanging. This recipe video had so much promise but where they could have really amped up the flavor, they fell flat. I told my friend, I am re-doing this recipe and it is happening SOON.
And boy, did I.
For over a week, I thought about this. Where can I up the flavor? How can I make this not boring?
Well, for one, I made my own brioche buns. This isn’t absolutely necessary but if you do it? You will not regret it. These buns are so intoxicating without any help. Just fresh out the oven and all you taste is yummy, buttery, soft, crispy heaven. So, allow me to channel Ina Garten- you do not need freshly baked brioche buns, you can use store bought. [insert judgement and friendly smile].
I actually just used this recipe from one of my favorite yeast brands. It’s a plan ahead recipe, though there are “lighter” recipes out there that allow you to bake within a couple of hours if you do your Googles. However, because of the way these buns came on? I will dedicate the time to get this result over and over again.
Major note: if you are going to make this recipe with homemade buns, allow yourself time! You need to start the buns either very, very early the morning before dinner or start them the previous night. You need to allow time for the dough to properly rise.
Now, this Video Recipe missed another prime opportunity to step the recipe up. Why put a chicken parm burger on a plain bun? Why not make it garlic bread? I took it a step further and roasted garlic to add to the buttery-herby mixture that topped the buns. Listen, Linda. Honey…Listen. Y-E-S! Brilliant, if I do say so myself. So, boom, right there. Two ways to boost the flavor.
So…. I must admit that I also ground my own meat. Wait, don’t go. This time I just opted for a food processor! Easy-peasy! I ditched the chicken skin, I deboned about 8 chicken thighs and had my sous-chef, Mason, pulse the meat until it was smooth. Any left over carcass? Freeze it in a freezer bag and toss it in your soup! Or use it to make a broth! Waste not, want not!
In my experience, chicken burgers are not known for tremendous texture. I wanted to focus on a moderate fat content and boosting flavor. When you grind your own meat, not only is it usually cheaper but you control what parts are used and how much fat. Ground chicken is known for being lean, AKA easy to dry out. These burgers were super moist, super flavorful and super easy. If you are not willing to grind your own meat, this I will not judge you for. I promise. Half the time I grind meat because I forgot to buy ground meat from the store. Other times, most of the time, it’s because it is truly cheaper.
With that said, aside from the buns, it’s a very straight forward recipe. A good one for eager, little hands to help with too!
Burger (yields 6 decent sized burgers):
8 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 2” pieces and ground until smooth
1 tbsp panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp of cheese (parm, romano, asiago- whatever you have)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tbsp granulated garlic (more to taste)
tsp Italian seasoning
pinch crushed red peppers
2 cups of tomato sauce (your favorite kind or season up some canned crushed tomatoes)
6 slices of mozzarella
Garlic Bread Buns:
6 brioche buns
½ stick of unsalted butter
pinch of kosher salt
3-4 cloves of roasted garlic
dash of granulated garlic
½ tsp of Italian seasoning
- Put garlic cloves in foil with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Seal and bake in the oven on 400 for about 20-30m. They should be soft and aromatic.
- Melt butter and add ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Debone your chicken thighs and cut into 1-2” pieces. I trimmed most of the fat but I allowed a few bits to remain. This absolutely contributed to the moistness of the burger without any added moisture. Add to food processor and pulse until smooth. (IF you are using pre-ground chicken, skip to next step.)
- Transfer meat to a bowl, add ingredients up to and including crushed red pepper. Mix well with a spatula, or your best tool- your hands. You do not want overmix; you just want to mix until the spices are well combined.
- Form your meat into decent sized patties. I was able to make six that were nearly ½” thick.
- Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with a neutral oil (if you are unsure about your seasoning, this is the time to add a small bit of meat and cook it through. Taste it and adjust your seasoning if you feel it is necessary.)
- Sear three burgers at a time, make sure to get some good color on each side.
- Cook your burgers for 4 minutes on each side.
- Remove the first batch and repeat with the remaining.
- Remove the second batch and drain any oil.
- Turn the heat down to prevent a lot of splatter and add your tomato sauce. (If you’re using canned crushed, make sure you season it up some.)
- Bring the sauce to boil then reduce to a simmer.
- Your garlic should be ready by now, if not, give it a few minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. The garlic should pop right out of it’s skin. Mash it up with the side of your knife and add to your butter mixture.
- Cut your buns in half and spread the butter mixture onto them.
- Add the burgers to sauce. Flip the burgers over a few times to coat, spoon some sauce on top and put a lid on. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Remember; the burgers are mostly cooked through.
- Turn on your broiler; Put your buttery buns under the broiler until just golden brown. Keep your eye on them so they do not burn.
- After about 2-3 minutes, place the slices of mozzarella onto the burgers in the pan. Place the lid on the pan and allow the steam to melt the mozzarella.
- Put the burgers on the buttery buns. Add some zucchini fries as a side. Please, go prosper!
Note: You can freeze the formed patties! Separate them with parchment, wrap with plastic wrap and stick them in a freezer bag. They will be ready to go next time you are craving burgers!
© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved
Lasagna is one of those meals that you whip up and you know you won’t have to worry about dinner for a couple of nights. It’s also one of those meals that allow you to load up on veggies! If you punch up the flavor, even the most anti-veg person will devour a serving or few.
Yields 15 lasagna rolls
Box of lasagna noodles
5 Spicy Italian sausage
small yellow onion
half of a green bell pepper
1 large zucchini
3 large carrots
1 pack of frozen chopped spinach
pint of reduced fat ricotta
4 cloves of garlic
Your favorite tomato sauce
Your preferred shredded cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
- Boil the lasagna noodles.
- Using a mandolin slicer, create zucchini ribbons and carrot ribbons
- Defrost spinach
- Brown your sausage or other ground meat (this could be a omitted for a completely vegetarian recipe)
- Add chopped garlic, onion and pepper, cook until just softened, season with salt and pepper.
- Drain your noodles, should be al dente
- Remove the meat and veg from the pan and drain in a strainer or a paper towel
- Drain spinach, season with salt, pepper and about 1 tsp garlic powder.
- Season ricotta with 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp kosher salt and a pinch of crushed pepper, mix to combine
- Take one noodle and “paint” ricotta mixture using a spoon or a spatula
- Lay carrot ribbons, sprinkle spinach, sprinkle meat mixture and top with cheese
- Tightly roll the noodles up
- Nestle a zucchini ribbon overtop, repeat until your pan is full. My pan was 13×9 and that fit 15 rolls. Lightly sprinkle kosher salt over your ribbon-wrapped rolls.
- Top with your favorite tomato sauce (I used 2 parts canned diced tomato and 1 part canned crushed tomato that I seasoned it up using my go-to’s: kosher salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, Italian seasoning, pinch of sugar and a dash of fish sauce).
- Generously top with your preferred shredded cheese
- Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes then uncovered until bubbling and the edges start to brown.
© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved