Tostada burger

Disclaimer: These aren’t pretty pictures. Sorry. Did I mention we eat every dish you see on this blog? Well, we do, and these babies weren’t waiting for a photo shoot. Allz I can say is, these are incredibly delicious and messy, the way a good burger should be. Better pictures another day. Maybe.

The first time I had these burgers was on my first visit to San Antonio, TX. This was eons ago, close to 15 years or so. Friends took us to this little hole in the wall grill promising the best burgers we’d ever had. They were right and continue to be. Chris Madrid¬†has been around and expanded since then. This burger, and I have to say ‘this burger’ because I don’t think I’ve ever ordered anything else; this burger has remained the same. Consistently. Deliciously. Wackily good.

These burgers are so good and coveted by my friend Dodo and I, that we have made the 3-ish hour drive, had our burgers and turned around heading back to Houston. Yep. We have driven 6 hours for this burger. What? Like you wouldn’t?

Let me tell you about this little jewel. The Tostada¬†Burger is dressed with mayo, refried¬†pinto beans, tortilla chips, sweet onions, and an obscene sea of melted cheddar. Real cheddar. Melted. Real melted cheddar, I still don’t know how they achieve¬†that feat. When they throw that burger at you, you can’t see the bun or the patty because they’re both covered by cheddar. OH. MY. GAWD. !!!.

Here’s my attempt at a Chris Madrid Tostada Burger.

2 cps pinto beans, cooked
5 bacon strips, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 lb ground chuck
Fajita seasoning
Tortilla chips, coarsely broken
4 hamburger buns

For the Onions:¬†This¬†is a step you can skip if you don’t mind raw onions, but I do, so I cook’em¬†in bacon fat. Cuz bacon…, you know, makes everything bettah! Render the fat from the bacon and cook until it is lightly browned. Remove the bacon from the fat and¬†add the chopped onions. Cook the onions until slightly softened. Once the onions have softened, remove them from the fat and set aside to drain.

For the Refried Beans: I started off with dry beans, but I have made this with whole canned beans. Do make sure you drain and rinse the canned beans before using them.

¬†In the remaining bacon fat, add the beans, garlic and bacon together with about 1 cp of the bean cooking liquid, (if using canned beans add¬†water or broth). Smash the beans into a chunky paste, it’s ok if you have beans that are just slightly mashed. Check the seasoning, adjusting the salt and pepper.

The beans should be loose, you don’t want them to be too thick. They will thicken as they sit around. Keep warm.

For the burger: Season the ground chuck liberally with fajita seasoning, try not to handle the beef too much. Once you have integrated the seasoning, divide it into 4 balls. Once divided, flatten into patties.

To cook, heat a flat skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat and place the patties on the very hot pan. Cook to your preferred doneness, flipping them after a few minutes. In the meantime, preheat the broiler.

Once the burgers are done, top each with a couple of slices of cheddar and pop it under the broiler. Watch them through the little window, just wait until the cheese melts and is bubbly and beginning to brown.

To assemble:¬†I toasted the buns in a bit of butter, your choice to do so or not. Spread some mayo on the buns, don’t be shy. Set the¬†cheesy patty on the bottom half, top with a couple tablespoons¬†of refried beans. Top the beans with the crushed tortilla chips and finally, the onions. Put the other half of the bun on top and go at it. You. Will. Lose. Your. Mind. I guarantee it!

Cookingly yours,

PS: Make sure you have plenty of napkins.

Not exactly a White Castle Burger

One of the menu items for my recent 24, 24, 24 submission was an ode to White Castle burgers, at least that’s where the inspiration started. Since White Castle originated in Ohio, this seemed a fun menu item to throw into the mix as the Midwest’s representative.

First, I researched what all went into those little burgers. I remember how much I loved them while visiting Missouri. I can still picture the perfect little bread squares, the thin oniony patty and how moist it all was. From that memory, I knew I wanted to mimic the moist patty and the onion topping. I needed to decide on the bread.

I found suggestions to use hot dog buns cut in half, but I wanted more. This was the Midwest; corn is big there, isn’t it? So first I thought of cornbread, then I was hit by the lightbulb. Corn Fritters. Oh yeah. A new burger was born.

Note: This was an 8-course meal I was preparing for, so I made the onions and fried the corn pancakes ahead of time. You can do the same. Also, I served these open-faced–with a pancake at the bottom only, you decide if you want to sandwich them or not.

Burgers on Corn Pancakes with Caramelized Onions

For the Burgers:
1 lb. ground sirloin (use good quality meat)
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsps extra virgin olive oil

Drop all the ingredients except for the beef into your blender and liquify, then add the mixture to the beef. Mix it in by hand and shape into balls just slightly larger than a golf ball. Set aside in your fridge until ready to cook.

When you’re ready to serve them, heat a medium-sized skillet until smoky. Drop 2 or 3 of the meatballs, leaving enough room between them. Flatten them out and cook for a few minutes on either side. Once you’ve flipped them, top it with one of the cooked corn pancakes. This will allow the flavor of the beef to permeate the pancake. Remove from the skillet, top with the onions before serving.

For the Caramelized Onions:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp brow sugar
3 tbsps sherry (or cooking wine)
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

I used my mandolin to slice the onions. I love my mandolin, it makes my life beautiful and easy when I’m facing tasks such as this one. It made slicing that onion a breeze, it took me less than 5 minutes to end up with these¬†beautiful slices.

Heat up a saute pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil and butter until it melts. Then add the onions and cook them until they begin to soften.

Add the sugar, this will help caramelize the onions, browning them. Once they have browned, add the sherry and vinegar. Cook until it evaporates. Check and adjust seasoning as desired. Use to top the burger patties.

For the Corn Pancakes:
3 ears of corn, shucked (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 tbsps butter, melted
2 eggs
3 ozs whole milk
1/2 cp cheese (like Gouda, Emmentaler)
1/3 cp flour
1/2 cp coarse yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
Oil for frying

After you’ve removed the kernels from the cob, add all the ingredients except the cheese and oil ¬†to your blender or food processor. Blitz it just a couple of times, you want it to be chunky. Then mix in the cheese by hand.

In a nonstick skillet, heat up enough oil to fry the pancakes, you want it to be about 1/4 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium high heat and drop the corn batter using a 1/4 cp measuring laddle or cup. Brown it on both sides, it will take about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm.

Putting it all together: After topping the patty with one of the pancakes and allowing the pancake to heat through on the skillet, invert it onto the plate. If serving open-face: top the patty with a dollop of onions. If planning to sandwich it, place the second pancake over the patty, then top with the onions.

These are AMAZING. Do enjoy.
Cookingly yours,