Sunday, November 21, 2010

You never need to buy hamburger buns again.

I love hamburgers. The buns, however, have always been sort of the least favorite part for me...sort of the necessary evil of a hamburger...That thing which merely keeps my hands tidier while I'm enjoying everything else about the burger. All that changed the other night, when I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or Triple D as we food network fans call it) and they featured a place somewhere that used a pretzel roll for their burgers...and when they made one for Guy, he kept going on and on about how good the bun I thought hmmm...maybe there is something to that. And my quest began...Long story short, I took a little bit of this one and a little bit of that one to make some seriously delicious buns for my burgers--They are chewy but not too chewy, they are not 'all-crust' as I was fearful they might be, and they were not 'too-much-bread' as they looked like they might be when I was done baking them. A side note: never having made pretzels before, I always wondered why they taste like they do, and discovered that little non-secret (welcome to the party,Mama...) It is boiling them in baking soda! a quick little trick that really sets these apart from your basic buns. Do not be dissuaded from making these by the two-step cooking process, they easily mixed up in my kitchen-aid, rested quietly on my stovetop, then a plop-skip-and-a-jump through some boiling water and onto a baking sheet and they were done. I sprinkled them liberally with salt, and should mention that, as a graduate of the old-school George J Dana School of Salting, I couldn't have been happier with the buns as-they-were. Just gnawing on that roll all by itself was nirvana. However, with a chunk of meat inside, also well salted, it was perhaps a trifle overpowering. Henceforth, smaller rolls will get more salt, and a little ramekin of melted sharp cheddar, bigger rolls will get less salt. 'nuff chatter. Here's the recipe:

1 1/4 cup warm water
1T yeast
1/4 cup brown sugar. (secret ingredient that really makes them sing.)
Let these proof for just a couple minutes.
2 T milk
2 T melted butter
4 c all-purpose flour
I just tossed this all into my kitchen-aid and let it run for 10 minutes or so. I had to add 2 additional tablespoons of flour to accommodate the extra humidity, but then again, I live in Eugene. If you don't have a machine with a dough hook, it will be a little more labor intensive.

Turn the dough out, and stretch it into a nice long snake...2 ft or so. Cut it into 8 or 10 sections, depending on the size of your burgers, shape them into a roll (I did this by pulling and pinching, not rolling) then plop these onto an oiled cookie sheet. Let them rest for 20 or 30 minutes. In the meantime, Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and put a pot of water on the stove--your largest pot with room for at least 4 to 6 inches of water. Let it come to a boil, then add 1/4 cup baking soda to this water. Add them 3 or 4 at a time into the boiling water, and allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, flip them, give it another 20 or 30 seconds, then scoop them out of the water and put them back on the baking sheet. Salt them now if you wish, with a smattering of kosher salt, and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes or so. Pull them out of the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet (This helps them to cook a tiny bit more inside) then transfer to a cooling rack.


As a side note, I made the following chicken burgers to go into them; My #3 child happens to LOVE chicken wings, and I found this delicious Buffalo Chicken burger recipe, that was somewhat of a failure the first time I tried it, because the recipe said to grill the meat, and it was waaay to soft to do that with, and they sorta fell apart on the grill. They tasted wonderful, though, so I didn't throw away the recipe, just pondered it for awhile. Decide to try them again last night, but shaped them into burgers, then baked them, as they had a very meatloaf-type consistency. Turned out to be just the thing, with the last 2 minutes under the broiler for browning (this also makes them a good 'Winter' burger, since they are not ideal for the grill):

1.5 lbs ground chicken
4 oz Crumbled blue cheese
1/3 c Hot Wing sauce
1.5 c plain bread crumbs
1 egg

Mix well, and shape into 6 to 8 burgers. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. 1 to 2 minutes under the broiler to brown them. They will not shrink much, so keep that in mind. Incidentally, they hold their shape very well once they are cooked. The consistency though, remains more like meatloaf. Nevertheless, they are delicious!

I made a good southern-style coleslaw with a little blue-cheese mixed into the dressing, slapped it right on top of this chicken burger, tossed on a burger sized pickle slice and went to heaven for a minute.


  1. One of my favorite all time food items is a big soft pretzel - this I'm going to try for sure. Thanks!

  2. I'm trying this as a meatloaf tonight.. i'll let you know how it turns out