Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wicked Good Burgers: Flour Bakery Burger Buns + Giveaway!

I was ecstatic when I found out that Andy Husbands and Chris Hart, authors of Wicked Good Barbecue (and fellow New Englanders), were releasing a new cookbook focusing entirely on the all-American burger. I had the pleasure of reviewing their first cookbook last fall and fell in love immediately. They shared recipes that ranged from their award-winning barbecue to nouveau creations that would be welcome on any barbecue lovers' repertoire.

Just like any meat-eating American, I love a good burger. My favorites range from the likes of Shake Shack and In-N-Out to even more creative creations topped with anything from goat cheese to guacamole. I love a nice, greasy diner burger along with one infused with the aroma of charcoal. It's all good in my book, but the one thing I detest more than anything is a burger made from a flavorless store-bought frozen meat patty.

Shame on anyone who thinks that is acceptable to serve your friends and family! Have enough respect for yourself to make your burgers from scratch. Even if you don't grind your own meat (I don't expect you to), at least use fresh meat and SEASON IT!

Vent over. Back to the book. Wicked Good Burgers uses the same attention to quality and detail that Wicked Good Barbecue illustrated. These are competition cooks and they take pride in EVERYTHING they cook, not just barbecue. The book starts out by discussing the history of the hamburger, information on grinding your own meat, as well suggestions on burger blends, notes on shaping burgers as well as two unique methods for cooking burgers: Chris's favorite method, which is cooking on a skillet, and Andy's preference, which is over live fire. There are benefits to both, all of which is discussed in the opening chapter.

The first recipe is called "Our Perfect Burger" and is followed up with a plethora of incredible topping suggestions that you can mix and match or use on some of the other burgers in the book. Some of these toppings include Bread and Butter Pickles, Pig Candy, Pickled Green Tops, Grilled Romaine, Peppered Onion Rings, Garlic Confit Jam, and Tomato-Ginger Mustard, just to name a few.

The book also includes a bunch of favorites shared by other others. Josh Ozersky, author of The Hamburger: A History, not only writes the forward for this book, but shares his favorite burger recipe. John Delpha, chef-owner of the Belted Cow Bistro in Essex Junction, Vermont is a friend of the chefs and shared his Veal Parmigiana Burger, while Michael Schlow, chef-owner of several New England restaurants, shared his award-winning burger recipe from the 2008 South Beach Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash. These are just a few of the special treats in store within the pages of this book.

Chapters entitled Where's The Beef? (featuring non-beef burger recipes), Burgers Beyond Borders (internationally-inspired burgers), You Want Fries with That? (a variety of side dishes for any burger), and That's a Frappe! (sweet endings or compliments to your burger meal) follow. There are countless mouthwatering recipes in this book and I can't wait to try.

The Gold Coast Burger takes its inspiration from a burger Chris enjoyed in Australia. It features sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, a special sauce, pickled beets, Canadian bacon, caramelized pineapple, tomato, and if that wasn't enough, a fried egg on top. A Tortilla-Wrapped New Mexican Chile Burger features a green chile relish-topped burger (bun and all) wrapped inside a tortilla and pan-fried. It seems like overkill, but I'm curious enough to want to try it!

Meanwhile, the book includes three veggie burgers, two of which are completely vegan, all of which look incredible and are high on my list for burgers to try. The book also features not one, but four recipes for buns  ranging from Flour Bakery (in Boston, MA) Burger Buns to Brioche Buns. Throw on a side of fries (there are several options there too) and you've got a fantastic meal that can beat any drive-thru.

I decided to kick off my birthday celebration with a bit of a burger party. I made Our Perfect Burger but used slightly leaner beef (93% instead of 80%). I know that fat is flavor, and I'm all for flavorful fat, but my family tends to prefer leaner meat in general and since we were still going to be undercooking the burgers I knew they wouldn't dry out.

I also made the Jack D'Or Mustard recipe from the book as well as the Flour Bakery Buns and the Sweet Potato Pub Fries. I made some Blueberry Ketchup from another book I'm reviewing later this week (that recipe will be up on Friday) and I caramelized some onions as well to round out the burger accouterments.

The buns were perhaps the best part of the meal, especially once they were split and lightly grilled until barely charred at the edges. Of all the components I made, I decided to share the bun recipe because it was an overwhelming favorite of everything I served. Although I'm looking forward to trying some of the other bun recipes in the book, I have a feeling these will become our go-to homemade buns for all burger parties in the future.

I am giving away a copy of the book to a lucky Mission: Food reader from the United States. The giveaway will run 1 week, until April 16th at 11:59 pm. I will select a winner at random. In order to participate in the giveaway you may do any of the following, and each is considered a separate entry, so leave a comment for each one you do.

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite burger toppings.
2. Like Mission: Food on Facebook and then leave a comment telling me you did.
3. Follow @missionfood on Twitter and then leave a comment telling me you did.
4. Follow Mission: Food on Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me you did.

Flour Bakery Burger Buns
Makes 8
(From Wicked Good Burgers)

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water, room temperature
1 teaspoon (4 g) active dry yeast
3 cups (375 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus about 1/4 cup (31 g) more, if needed
1 cup (137 g) bread flour
1 tablespoon (13 g) plus 2 teaspoons (9 g) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 g) kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
About 1/8 cup (18 g) cornmeal (one small handful) for the baking sheet
Sesame seeds, optional

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve. Dump the all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, and salt onto the water. Turn the mixer on low speed and let the dough mix for about 30 seconds. When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in the oil, aiming it along the side of the bowl to keep it from splashing.

With the mixer still on low, knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes or until it is smooth and supple. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer, mix in a few tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) water; if it is much looser, add all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon (8 g) at a time, until it reaches the proper consistency.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or a lint-free cloth. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (78 to 82 degrees F is ideal) for 2 to 3 hours and let the dough rise until it is about double in bulk.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal.

Using a bench scraper, divide the dough in half, on a lightly floured surface, shape each half into a rough square, about 4 x 4 inches. Divide each half into 4 equal-size pieces. With lightly floured hands, press/pat each piece into a circle. Bring the edges of the dough into the center so they all meet in the middle. Turn the dough piece over and keep tucking the dough underneath so you have a little tight ball of dough.

Place the ball of dough on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the other 7 pieces of dough. Sprinkle the dough balls with flour and lightly cover with a lint-free cloth or oiled plastic wrap and place in a warm area (78 to 82 degrees F) for about 2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size and soft.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.

Remove the cloth/plastic wrap. Sprinkle the rolls with a little more flour and slap them flat with the palm of your hand to deflate the dough. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, if desired. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until rolls are golden brown. Remove and let cool.

These buns are best on the day they are made. You can serve them up to 2 days later, reheated for a few minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.


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