I like to give my friend Piotr a hard time. I don’t do this to be mean, but just because he is so easy to tease. The first time Tom and I ate dinner at his house it was admittedly good, despite his self-proclaimed inability to cook. Good in a no-fuss, pleasantly simple, but tasty sort of way. Having (then) recently rejoined the ranks of bachelorhood, he had just moved into the house, had no furniture (literally) and very few dishes. He did have a sheet pan though, and it was filled with chicken, plenty of it. We all stood around the long (very long) kitchen island that serves as his hub, munched on chicken thighs, ate salad, drank wine and became friends.
Now, “P” (that’s what we call him), doesn’t entertain often but you can be assured when he does, one of two things will be served, chicken or salmon, and sometimes both. He’s the kind of guy that likes a routine and cooks what he knows, which is wise for company (I could learn something from that,preaching it often as I do). I am pretty sure he only knows how to cook in large quantities and has a hard time adjusting to the size of the crowd; not sure if that is a one-size-fits-all type of deal, or a more-is-better guy kind of thing.
But I admire him putting it out there and every year he throws a party for the anesthesiology team at the VA Hospital where he works. This year, by request, he made bison burgers. I was surprised to hear this, thinking outside his comfort zone and all, but then I found out chicken was on the menu as well. Baby steps.
After the party was over “P” stopped by our house bearing a platter of watermelon, cherries and cheese (yum). It was a hot, lovely, only-in-July NW week and (regardless of that) we were out on our deck in the shade, so he pulled up a chair and we chatted a bit. Me being me, began asking about food, which brought us to this – he did not have a bowl big enough for mixing 5 lbs of bison. To this I expressed my surprise that he formed them himself rather than buying pre-formed patties? “No, no”, he said. “You must form them with love. I mixed in the onions, the parsley, egg and breadcrumbs….” This is where I interrupted him (me being me). He was not describing burgers; he was describing grilled meatloaf, I told him. As I razzed him and gave him a hard time, I remembered that I do like meatloaf and I’m sure it was quite good. So, with my motivation being part inquisitive, and part proving my point, that night when he left I set out to make a burger that loafs around and right alongside, a meatloaf that cooks in it’s pan (so basically, I set out to make meatloaf disguised as a burger).
As an aside, later that same night, we found additional goodies surface on the deck including a bowl of green salad with many vegetables, plus beer (!). And ironically, cucumbers in the salad. What?! I had been bitching about not having cukes all weekend. I even mentioned how nice it would be to see if on some crazy notion “P” might have some and then I would not have to go to the store. I, of course never asked, because I never thought he would have one… turns out he did! Goes to prove, you just never know until you ask.
This makes three+ burgers, sliced loaf enough for three sandwiches (or two dinner servings). This is all relative of course, to appetite, size of person feeding and multiplication (was math your strong suit?). You might notice this yields an odd-sized portion, because of course, it was a “proving a point” experiment…
Also, I had no bison on hand so I used grass-fed beef instead. I had no parsley, hence oregano. No white bread allowed, so whole wheat breadcrumbs instead. Since my tray of watermelon “P” brought us sported a wedge of Stilton, I decided to mix this in too. Obviously, you can use my experiment to form all patties or all loaf, your choice.
1. 4 lbs ground beef, ground bison or a combination of the two
1/4 cup chopped sweet onions
1 tsp kosher salt
Many grinds of fresh pepper
1 egg, whisked (3 TB for burgers, the rest reserved)
1/4 – 1/2 cups bread crumbs (1/4 cup for burgers, the rest reserved)
2 – 3 oz Stilton or bleu cheese, crumbled
3 TB chopped poblano chili
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped soft herbs (I used oregano, summer savory and chives)
3 TB organic ketchup
1/2 cup purée of roasted tomato, balsamic and onion (all reserved for the loaf)
Mix the meat with the rest of the ingredients, holding back on the egg and breadcrumbs as mentioned above, as well as reserving the tomato purée.
Form three patties, 5 oz each. The remainder goes to baked loaf.
Form the remaining mixture into a loaf shape set over waxed paper. Pour over the remaining whisked egg then scatter with more bread crumbs. Pour over the purée of roast tomato and then carefully transfer to a non-stick loaf pan (sans waxed paper).
Grill the patties on a hot, oiled grill, 3-4 minutes per side. I like to grill slices of onion at the same time.
Cook the loaf pan, alongside the patties, on the heated grill or in a 450-degree oven for approximately 30-45 minutes, or until cooked through. Let rest 10-minutes before slicing. Served on toasted bread with caramelized onions and perhaps a little barbecue sauce, it would make (and did) a mean sandwich!
After our dinner, I packed up the “loaf” burger I made for “P” along with a few slices of the the MEATloaf and texted him to see if I could bring it over. No reply. He had already gone to bed. 8:30 pm. Good boy (school night and all).
The next morning, my text had been answered (at probably around 4:30am), to which I tardily-replied (bad girl). When we came home that evening, there was a cooler on our back porch housing the frozen “loaf” patty I requested in exchange for the one I made for him (it was necessary to compare, don’t you see?).
Hmmm… ya think someone ought to remind him that his salary affords him the ability to buy a new cooler all this time later? Take note of the blackened out name before his; I bet Sue has one that is not chewed on by critter. Again, all in good fun.
I removed the patty from the cooler and replaced it with the patty (and loaf slices) I had made. I then put the cooler back on “P”‘s porch (since he was not home) and sent him a text.
What?! He thought I thawed his burger, mashed it up and put it back into a completely different shape (1/2 the diameter and twice the height), placed it in a bun, with cheese, and grilled onions and called it my own?! We’re still laughing, and mean absolutely no offense to those with English as a second language. Not your burger to me, but a burger from me to you. Lesson learned on my end, I’m a putz.
Oh yeah, druuuuuumm roll please. Yes, this tasted good. Still, I am a purist and will stick with my way when I put burger to grill. However, there are many of you out there that have an opinion and I would love you to chime in. Do you make your burgers with breadcrumbs and egg or do you consider this an infringement on the sacredness of a burger and teetering on meatloaf? This inquiring mind wants to know. Oddly enough, I had never considered this an option a mere week ago. I’m growing, I’m changing…
So, since these were made because of a party, it seems fitting to bring them to a party – Happy Fiesta Friday everyone. Join Angie over at the Novice Gardener for more good things to eat, Hilda and Julianna will be greeting guests too. Ginger and Buddy are sitting this one out.