Steakburgers au Poivre with Asian Fire and Ice
Asian Cucumber Ice Topping:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
Asian Fire Sauce:
3 tablespoons prepared Chinese mustard
2 tablespoons Chinese chili paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons black peppercorns
6 thin slices pancetta, about 4 ounces
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing the grill
Reggiano Parmesan cheese (or other Parmesan cheese) shavings, enough to cover 6 burgers, cut with a cheese plane or a vegetable peeler from an 8 ounce block
6 seeded hamburger buns
6 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
To prepare the cucumbers: Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cilantro, cucumber, and onion, and toss together. Cover the mixture and chill at least 30 minutes.
To prepare the sauce: Stir together mustard, chili paste and soy sauce in a small bowl. Cover and set aside until needed.
To make the patties: Combine the chuck, water, thyme, garlic, and salt in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Very coarsely grind the peppercorns or place in a heavy duty plastic bag and crack with a skillet. Evenly divide the cracked peppercorns into 6 portions and press into both side of the patties. Cover the patties with plastic wrap and chill until needed.
Preheat a gas grill to medium high. Heat a large fire proof skillet on the grill. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain and wrap in foil to keep warm.
Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Place the cheese shavings on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling and cover to melt the cheese. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers: Place a lettuce leaf on the bun bottom, followed by a patty, the pancetta, and a drained, equal portion of the cucumbers. Smear the bun tops with about a tablespoon of the sauce and add to the burgers. Serve!