Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recipe: Wendy's Bacon Deluxe Burger

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I can't remember the last time I made hamburgers outside of summer grilling season, which is funny considering I don't have a grill and have to make them indoors anyway. Homemade hamburgers might scream summer, but add bacon and cheese and they're a crowd pleaser regardless of the season. Plus, you have a better chance of not setting the smoke alarm off when cool air is coming in from the window you've propped open to air out the kitchen..

Ingredients:
8 strips bacon
1 pound ground beef
Salt
Canola oil (to grease pan)
4 leaves lettuce
1 medium tomato
1 small onion
4 American cheese singles
12-16 pickle slices
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons ketchup
4 buns
Special equipment:
Cast iron griddle OR cast iron pan OR skillet
Baking sheet
Cooling rack

Serves four
Cost per serving: $5.77

Bacon

I find that the easiest and cleanest way to cook bacon is in the oven, especially when I'm cooking something else on the stove.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and add a raised cooling rack if you have one. Place the bacon on the rack if you’re using one, directly on the foil if not. Tip: If you only have one cooling rack and you're also making fries, save it for them. You can dry the bacon on paper towels after its cooked if necessary, but the fries will benefit more from the rack.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, longer if you want it crispier. Dry on paper towels and cut each strip in half. Set aside.

Beef

Divide the ground beef into four equal portions. Shape into square patties if desired, although this step is about 98% cosmetic! Round patties will taste just as good. Salt each side with about the amount you can keep pinched between two fingers.

Heat the griddle or pan over high heat until a drop of water immediately evaporates. This might be a good time to open the windows or turn on the kitchen fan - things are about to get smokey! When the pan is heated, grease lightly with canola oil (or an oil spray). Add the burgers and cook 2-3 minutes on each side for well done, less if you want it pinker (I like about 1.5 minutes on each side.) You should only need to flip each patty once, and it’s not ready to flip if you can’t get a spatula underneath it.

Assembling the Burger

Cut 1/4 inch slices from the tomato and onion and tear off a burger sized portion of lettuce. Unwrap a slice of American cheese and assemble the burger in this order from the bottom up:
  1. bottom bun
  2. beef patty
  3. cheese
  4. 4 bacon half slices (all lined up like sardines in a can)
  5. lettuce leaf
  6. tomato slice
  7. onion slices
  8. 1 tsp. mayonnaise
  9. 1 tsp. ketchup
  10. 3-4 pickle slices
  11. top bun
Serve with fries!

(A note on sesame seeds: Although the sesame seeds I used were indeed organic and made for a nice picture, I don’t recommend pressing them onto the bun as I did in the last picture! It looked sturdy, but they only stayed in place until we started to eat. If you really enjoy sesame seeds on your bun, Trader Joe’s organic whole wheat buns are baked with sesame seeds already on them. Besides, I discovered too late in the game that Wendy's uses corn meal instead of sesame seeds on their buns anyway!)


Cooking for One

After you’ve shaped all four patties, place three in plastic zip top bags, lay on a flat surface and freeze for up to four months. A quarter pound of beef will defrost in about half an hour when submerged in cool water.

If you’re only making two strips of bacon, it’s probably easier to squeeze them in next to the burger and cook the two together. You can then freeze the rest – instead of freezing (then defrosting) the whole lot together, I find this method convenient if you'll only need a few slices at a time:
  • Tear off a long strip of aluminum foil or plastic wrap
  • Lay the first strip at one end and roll the bacon and foil/wrap together until the first strip is covered
  • Place another strip next to the (now covered) first strip and repeat until you have a big bacon roll, then store the whole thing in a large zip top bag in the freezer
  • The next time you need bacon, unwrap the closest strip and cook! Bacon is so thin you can even cook it frozen, or just let it thaw on a plate for a few minutes
Trader Joe's buns freeze decently, but they're not quite the same once defrosted. I suggest freezing a few and using the rest for sandwiches, pudgy pies, etc.

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