Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cheeseburgers and Hot Dogs with the Burger Beast

The time had come to let someone in that wasn’t family to partake in The Project. I had gone through fritas and hamburgers by the time I met Sef Gonzalez, the Burger Beast, so we settled on having him come over to partake in the last burger recipe in the book – Cheeseburgers. And, since he was coming over, I took advantage to make Perros Rellenos (stuffed hot dogs), as he also reviews hot dogs from time to time.

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Being that he was my first celebrity guest, I made sure to invite my family over, as they, too, had been following the Burger Beast ever since last year’s Burgie Awards, where I was asked to give the Burgie to the best croqueta in town (Islas Canarias, of course).

I had all the ingredients laid out by the time Sef arrived and when he got to the house, my family took care of making him feel right at home as I organized myself in the kitchen. My mom and the Beast hit it off and had great conversations about Spam and hot dogs in a can (not Vienna Sausages) and before I knew it, we were cooking.

Recipe #613: Cheeseburgers

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There are two variations to Nitza’s cheeseburger – beef with pork or beef with ham. Since it was a special occasion, I decided to put the Beast to the test and make both so he could decide on the better version.

The recipe is so easy, it’s embarrassing – ground beef (80/20), ground pork or ground ham, an onion, garlic and mustard. You put all that in a food processor and mix away.

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Once you’ve got them well mixed, you form a dozen small patties. I used a cast iron skillet for the cooking, which turned out nicely. I cooked them, six at a time in some hot oil.

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Once they were done, I put a slice of Velveeta cheese (Nitza asks for queso proceso, processed cheese, so I had to use Velveeta) between two patties.

The HAMburger was first.

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The PORKburger was second.

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Days after, Sef called to say that in re-reading the recipe, we should have actually put the slice of cheese between two raw patties and then cooked them.

Either way, these burgers were good. I had to tell the Burger Beast that I wasn’t really a burger fan. My idea of a perfect burger is a Burger King double cheeseburger. I’m just not a fan of the raw meat taste in a homemade burger on a grill. I like my meats cooked medium rare, but there’s something about a burger that just doesn’t do it for me.

But, much to my surprise, after trying these cheeseburgers, I can tell you that things have changed. I liked the HAMburger best, but the PORKburger was way good, also. Very strange how something so simple without much fuss, fried up in a skillet in some hot oil could be so good.

We ate the burgers as appetizers and decided to have the Perros Rellenos as our main meal.

Recipe #621: Perros Rellenos

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This recipe actually called for a can of hot dogs, which I have never in my life seen. My mom swears they had them in Cuba, and that they were neither Spam nor Vienna Sausages. I just think that’s gross, so thank goodness that our advancement has led us to Hebrew National franks. I went with those.

I made an incision in each hot dog from top to bottom, deep enough to be able to fill with a slice of cheese.

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I then wrapped each cheese-stuffed hot dog with a raw piece of bacon and used toothpicks to keep the bacon from unraveling in the baking.

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Nitza says you should cook them in a hot oven for five minutes – no temperature included. So, I guessed at 425 degrees and I checked them until we reached the doneness I thought we needed – which took twenty minutes.

I’ll warn you that there was lots of grease that gathered in my cookie sheet while the bacon cooked. And, Velveeta doesn't prove to be good enough for heat so we lost a good amount of the cheese in the cooking. When you go to remove the sheet with the cooked dogs from the oven, make sure you’re steady or you’ll have grease dripping all over the place.

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I put the bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed dogs in a potato hot dog bun and topped each with ketchup, mustard and mini papitas (mini potato sticks).

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Sef had gone out to get old school fried apple pies from one McDonald’s that still makes them on Kendall and 107th. We had those pies for dessert and between the hot dogs, my newfound favorite homemade cheeseburgers and the apple pies from my childhood, I was in heaven. Weight Watchers flex points were made for just this reason.

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Having the Burger Beast over in La Cocina with my husband, kids, parents, brother and Jackie was a treat and now we’re thinking of the next recipe to cross-blog about. It’s only fitting that I give croquetas a shot, but let me tell you – I’ve got big shoes to fill on the croqueta front. My maternal grandmother’s croquetas were the best around and now that she’s gone, I can only hope that The Project ones are good enough. Luckily, I know that Burger Beast will give you his honest opinion on them. Check out Sef’s version of our cooking session by clicking here.

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