Monday, May 5, 2008

The Producers' picnic

All those hamburgers were for the picnic yesterday (Sunday). We were expecting between 30 and 40 people - and it topped out at 34. Since almost everyone is under 25, we were all ready for the hollow leg brigade - those people who can eat and eat!

We put out some home made guacamole, a jalapeno/quark dip, and chips for people to nibble on before the grill got cranking.

Since we doing both burgers and bratwursts, I needed a way to keep cooked brats moist and hot. The standard way of doing that is to make a caramelized onion/beer bath to put the grilled brats into. Brats and onions are such a good combination and beer? Well those folks in Wisconsin now something about that too.

The burgers themselves were pretty straightforward - grilled for about 4 minutes per side and they were done perfectly. I didn't season the meat prior to making the patties, so I simply had some ground pepper and salt in a small bowl beside the grill. As I put burgers on, I seasoned the top side, then when they were flipped I seasoned the other side. You end up using a lot less salt that way (maybe 2tsp for 64 burgers) and you get the hit of salt in the first bite. We put out traditional fixin's and were surprised that the raw onion (a Texas 1015) went faster than the tomato. Lettuce was (rightly in my opinion) of little interest to anyone. Ketchup, relish and mustard were used in about equal quantities. Surprisingly Swiss cheese proved more popular than "American" cheese for the cheese burgers.

I found it best to cook the burgers in batches of 6 or 8 - even though the grill has larger capacity. That way, I could ensure that we didn't have burgers sitting around drying out. And, oh yes the indentations did their thing - the burgers cooked up completely flat!

Onion and beer bath for brats.
4 large yellow onions halved (pole to pole) and sliced into wedges
1T butter
2T Vegetable oil
1t kosher salt
2x12 oz bottles of a well flavored beer (I used Shiner Bock. I would not recommend a light beer here, nor a stout)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan and keep the heat going until it stops foaming. Add the oil, then the onions and salt. Stir to mix and leave over low heat to gradually caramelize. Mine took about an hour - but I deliberately had the heat very low since I was doing other things. When much of the water has been driven off and the onions are golden brown and very sweet and soft, add the beer and bring to a simmer.

Keep the onion/beer bath warm on a cooler part of the grill, and put the grilled brats in there to keep warm. When you serve the brats, make sure you get a good helping of the onions too, leave the liquid behind.

1 comment:

Jeannot Muller said...

Hey Chris,
could to read some news from you. Sounds like I really have to follow your invitation next time I'll come over to the US.
Sounds like everything is all right with you and Madame.
I wish you only the best.