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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Roasted Hamburgers & Oven Fries from All About Roasting

Roasting is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It does magical things to vegetables, and when applied to large pieces of meat, you get maximum oohs and aahs for minimum effort. So naturally, when we were asked if we wanted to review Molly Stevens' All About Roasting, I jumped at the chance. I know my way around an oven, but surely I can learn something from a James Beard Award winner!

I was not disappointed. The first part of the book deals with the history, science, and techniques behind roasting. I enjoyed that each recipe is also broken down into what type of roasting technique you use, and offers wine pairings.

Speaking of wine, I was in Sonoma in December for Jason's birthday, and of course I brought home some tasty tipples from the vineyards we visited. One was the Forgotten Vines Zinfandel from DeLoach. So last week, I was flipping through All About Roasting, trying to decide what to make for a casual dinner party, and saw the wine note for the Roasted Hamburgers: "Red zinfandel and hamburgers make one of the all-time best comfort food pairings. Look for a recent vintage of old-vine Zinfandels from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley or San Luis Obispo." Done and done!

But you can't just serve burgers, right? Fries are a must! Thankfully, Molly comes to the rescue there as well. She recommends a combination of parboiling and roasting for a crispy texture without frying. I'm a bit of a lazy cook, so when I see steps like "parboil" or "dry on clean dishtowels," I most usually skip them. But I was the student and Molly the teacher, so I did as she said. And hoo-boy, I was not disappointed! Those fries were delicious. Especially paired with the suggested garlic-chile mayo I whipped up.

One of my favorite aspects of this dinner was that since both the fries and the burgers were roasted instead of fried, there was no grease spattering! Clean and easy, and everything is done at once. My dinner companions were thrilled with the results, too, though probably more with the taste than the lack of oil sprays.

I'm looking forward to exploring more recipes in All About Roasting. Maybe a rack of lamb, or a standing rib roast, perhaps?

from All About Roasting
Serves 6

• 1.5 t kosher salt, plus more for lining the pan
• 2 lb ground beef, preferably chuck
• 1 T worcestershire sauce
• Fresh black pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spread a thin layer of salt over the surface to absorb any drippings and prevent the oven from smoking (ed: I forgot to do this, and it only smoked for the last couple minutes!). Arrange a wire rack so that it sits at least 3/4 inch above the surface of the pan.

Break the beef into 1 to 2 inch lumps with your hands and drop into a mixing bowl. Season with salt, worcestershire, and black pepper. Mix gently, using your fingertips to break up the meat and incorporate the seasonings. Overhandling will make for tough, dry burgers.

Divide the meat into 6 portions and shape into disks about 3.25 inches across and 1 inch thick. Set the burgers at least 1 inch apart on the wire rack.

Roast the burgers for 10 to 16 minutes and check with an instant-read thermometer. Medium-rare is 130-135 degrees, medium is 140 degrees. If adding cheese (ed: I used sharp and medium cheddar), top the burgers with cheese when they are about 2 degrees from being done to your liking and return to the oven for 1 minute.

Serve on toasted buns, with condiments of your choice.

from All About Roasting
Serves 3-4

• 2 large russet potatoes (about 1.75 lbs total), scrubbed
• Kosher salt
• 2 T extra virgin olive oil or neutral vegetable oil

Postion a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Fill a large (4 to 5 quart) pot with cold water.

Peel the potatoes and cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick by 1/2-inch wide sticks. Drop the sticks into the pot of water as you go (can be done up to a day ahead. Refrigerate in the water if longer than 2 hours).

Drain and rinse the potatoes and return them to the pot with enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water. Partially cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until they begin to show signs of tenderness, not more than 3 minutes (starting to soften, but still firm to taste).

Drain the potatoes carefully so they fall gently into a colander to prevent breaking. Once drained, spread the potatoes out onto clean dishtowels to dry (they can sit for up to an hour).

Slide a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet onto the middle oven rack to heat it. Transfer the potatoes to a platter, add the oil, and gently toss, using your hands to coat and prevent breaking. Remove the heated sheet from the oven, and transfer the potato sticks as quickly as you can to the sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch between them. Return to the oven and roast, turning the fries with tongs and rotating the baking sheet once after 15 minutes and then after another 10 minutes, until the fires are crisp on the outside, tender inside, and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt & serve immediately.

from All About Roasting
Makes 1/2 cup

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 2 T adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers)
• 1 garlic clove, finely minced
• 1 T fresh lime juice
• Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

In a small bowl, stir together mayo, adobo sauce, garlic, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Have you cooked from All About Roasting? What's your favorite thing to roast?

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