Peachy Keen Burgers: an autobiography in meat
This burger tells the story of my life, from my early years in the cultural melting pot of New York City with its flavors of Eastern European, Mediterranean and Asian influences, to my later years in rural upstate New York’s farm country where quality produce has consistently driven and inspired my creative culinary side. From learning to cook in grandma’s shallot-scented kitchen to finding out that peaches do, indeed flourish in the orchards of upstate New York, this burger is an autobiography in meat.
Lemon Caper Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
zest of half a lemon
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
12 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced and separated into rings
4 tablespoons olive oil (or even better: rendered chicken fat)
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
3 unripe peaches
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-5tbs balsamic vinegar, for glazing the peaches
Smoked Tea Spice Rub
2 teaspoons lapsang souchong tea leaves, less than 1 teabag worth
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper, ground
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sichuan peppercorns, or fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
2 pounds freshly ground chuck, 80% lean
vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 onion rolls, split
6 butter lettuce leaves
6 slices triple-cream brie
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
To make the aioli, combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest, parsley, and capers in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To make the shallots, combine the shallots and olive oil in a small bowl to coat well. Pour the oiled shallots into a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet, and place on the grill rack. Cook the shallots for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often, until they are well-caramelized and crisp. Add salt and remove the grill and set aside to drain on paper towels.
To prepare the peach, cut peach in half and remove pit. Slice rounded end off to create a 1/2 inch thick slice of peach. Coat the peach slices in olive oil and grill 5 minutes, then turn and grill for 4 minutes or more till soft. Glaze with balsamic vinegar on both sides. Remove from flame and set aside.
To make the spice rub, combine the lapsang souchong tea leaves, brown sugar, chipotle pepper, salt, ginger, garlic, pepper and orange peel in a coffee mill and pulse till finely ground.
To make the patties, combine the chuck and spice rub in a large bowl and mix with two forks trying to handle the meat as little as possible. Divide the meat and shape into 6 patties, no more that 1/2 inch thick each.
When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once until done to preference, 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium.
Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of the lemon-caper aioli over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a leaf of butter lettuce, a slice of brie, a grilled patty, followed by a glazed peach, frizzled shallots and then add the top bun. Add love liberally, serve and prepare for “yummy noises”.
Makes 6 burgers