Friday, May 20, 2011

Paleo Burger and Fries

Buns? We don't need no stinkin' buns!
I really like hamburgers. They're basically paleo, except for the bun. Then again, I can't remember the last time I was eating a hamburger and I thought to myself "Dang, this is an awesome bun!" So, let's just leave it out and do a "hamburger steak." They do it all the time in diners, so why not?

I also tried an experiment with this meal. I've been thinking lately that turnips are superior to potatoes in every way, so why not try to make some turnip french fries? They subbed very well as hash browns in the breakfast casserole, so fries seemed like a good idea. I did them as oven fries, and the results were as good as any oven fries I've ever made with potatoes. Unfortunately, I've never made really excellent oven fries, so the bar is a little low. I'll definitely try the turnip fries again, but I think I'll pan-fry them. I'll be sure to post how it goes. In the mean time, I'm including the oven fries here in case you want to give them a whirl.


Feel free to change up those spices to suit your tastes.

For the hamburgers:
2 lbs hamburger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes (or onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

You only need enough turnips to fill a cookie sheet. I used two.
For the turnip fries:
2 turnips
olive oil (to coat)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)


For the hamburgers:
Grill (or grill pan)
Large bowl

For the turnip fries:
Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper (recommended)

If you're making both of these at the same time, you should start with the fries. You'll have enough time to make the burgers while the fries are in the oven.

Speaking of ovens, preheat yours to 400.

Peel the turnips with a vegetable peeler, and use a knife to cut them into strips. I cut mine pretty thin - if you aim for about the size of a McDonald's french fry, you'll be about right. The most important thing is to make all of the fries as close to the same thickness as you can. If they're all different sizes, they won't all cook the same amount.

Coat the fries with the oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can either do this in a big bowl, or you can lay the fries out on the cookie sheet first, drizzle the oil over them, and sprinkle the spices on top. I didn't measure the spices, I just used a little of each one. (If you forced me to guess, I'd say 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of each)

I actually used a basting brush to paint on the olive oil after I'd spread the fries on the cookie sheet.
Then I sprinkled on the spices.

However you get the seasonings on there, you want to end up with a single layer of the seasoned fries on your cookie sheet. As always, I like to use parchment paper to help with the cleanup.

Bake your fries at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn them over as best you can, so that they cook evenly on all sides. They'll come out something like this:

Some fries will be browner than others. Is "browner" a word? Spellcheck says, "yes."

Once the fries go in the oven, you can start on the burgers.

First, put the meat in a large bowl with the salt, garlic powder, onion flakes, liquid smoke, and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together. Don't mush the hamburger too much, but try to get all of the spices evenly distributed.

Ah yes. The very advanced "mush everything together in a bowl" technique.

Divide the hamburger into fourths. I usually just cut two lines across the whole mass and lift out each fourth.

Try and make the hamburgers the same size so they'll cook the same amount.
Noticing a theme yet?

Make four hamburger patties and set them aside to rest for just a few minutes. While they're resting, get your grill or grill pan really hot.

Letting them rest allows the onion flakes to absorb a little moisture.

Grill the hamburgers for 5 minutes on the first side, and 4 minutes on the second side.

First side. Don't go poking at them.

Second side. If you squish the burgers down with a spatula, I will cut you.

Take the burgers off of the grill and place them either on a plate or (even better) a cooling rack over a plate. Let them rest for 5 minutes before you eat them.

Letting the burgers rest now will make them much juicier on your plate.

  • The hamburgers should be about an inch thick. If you make them too thin, they'll overcook, and they'll be undercooked if you make them too thick.
  • I made 8oz hamburgers, which I think are just right. Then again, I'm more "pappa bear" sized; if you're more like "baby bear," you might want to make smaller burgers. If you divide the whole batch into 6 patties, you'll have roughly 5oz burgers. You should cook those for about one minute less on each side. (because they'll be a little thinner)
  • If you want to make those cool cross-hatch grill marks on your burgers, just rotate them ninety degrees (without flipping them) halfway through cooking each side.
  • The problem I always have with oven fries is that they're never very crispy. The turnip version was no exception. They tasted awesome, but they were a little floppy.
  • I served the burgers like a steak. If you wanted, you could put your favorite burger toppings on there, or you could try wrapping them in lettuce. I think butter lettuce works pretty well for wrapping burgers.
  • You won't be able to flip every single one of the fries when you turn them halfway through cooking. just try to get most of them and it will work out OK.

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