Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jerk Burgers with Grilled Pineapple and Yucca Fries

This doesn't even come close to describing how incredible the burger was (and it's a tasty looking pic).
In my never-ending quest to become a full fledged adult male, there are still certain tasks I need to master. While I may be an expert at the art of drinking a beer after a long day of work and lounging around in a white t-shirt and boxers on a recliner, I still need some guidance in things like grilling and changing the oil in a car. Following a long post vacation week back at work, I figured it would be a great time to pick Kevin's brain again for at least more answers on how to man a grill (since my gut tells me oil comically pouring all over my face like sitcoms have taught me will happen just wasn't going to serve as dinner).

Starting with our Texas Burgers, Kevin and I have come to understand that our destiny is to make the world's juiciest, most ridiculously over-thought burgers. Friday, we continued chasing that dream with an assist from Tovy and a hastily thrown together vision of a Jamaican burger paradise that was somehow executed to perfection.

Jerk Sauce
Adapted from About
Servings: 11/2 cups
Time: 15 minutes

1/4 cup ground Jamaican allspice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 garlic cloves
3-4 Scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and cored (use gloves)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp soy sauce
8-10 oz Red Stripe 
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

Until I figure out how to create a scratch and sniff blog, you will just have to trust me that the spicy, tasty sauce was much better than being just blandly brown looking.

  1. Convince your eager to contribute friend, Tovy, to chop the peppers.
  2. Assert your manliness in front of your friends by saying you'll try the Scotch bonnet pepper to see how spicy it is. Do not show weakness.
  3. Liquify all the ingredients together in a blender.
  4. Realize it's gritty thanks to the allspice. 
  5. Attempt and fail to strain it. 
  6. Resign yourself to the fact that you're gonna use this for basting and not as a straight up sauce (plus it's way too liquidy anyway).
In case it wasn't painfully obvious from the instructions, I initially envisioned the jerk sauce as a condiment for our burgers, but settling for using it for basting proved surprisingly effective. Like any good caribbean inspired cooking, it had a nice balance of spicy with a little bit of sweet. It was a powerful yet delicate combination of spices (and beer) that enhanced the rest of our meal without overwhelming it.

Jerk Burgers
Servings: 3-4 Burgers (only limited by amount of beef)
Time: 30 minutes
Guess the most important ingredient

1 lb ground beef (we used 85/15 grass-fed)
1 Pineapple, sliced and cored
1/2 white onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
3 jalapenos, seeded and diced
Pepper jack cheese
Jerk Sauce (see above)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Well packed, but not overly so with colorful veggies
  1. Form 3-4 patties by combining the meat with onion, bell pepper and jalapenos. Be careful not to overdo it on the fillings or the burgers will lose all structural integrity. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve the extra veggies.
  2. Wrap the veggies tightly in aluminum foil with some jerk sauce. Let steam on the grill for about 15 minutes until super fragrant and soft.
  3. Grill the pineapple until there are nice grill marks (about 3-5 minutes per side).
  4. Lime everything up! Rub the grill with half a lime then put lime juice on top of our patties. 
  5. Grill the patties for about 4-5 minutes per side for a juicy medium. Brush with the jerk sauce about twice per side. Finish off with some cheese for the final couple of minutes.
  6. Top grilled buns with a patty, a pineapple slice and your steamed jerk veggies.
  7. Declare success.

    The unflipped pineapple was ostracized and brutally discriminated against.
    Let's be honest this entire night was really just an excuse to grill pineapple. Plus, it served as my first ever attempt to pick out the most succulent, ripe pineapple in a store and proudly butcher it. 
Kevin brilliantly saved our lack of sauce with his steamed jerk "salsa".
Super poorly lit basting pics are probably the world's next "selfie".
These burgers can best be described as having endless layers of juiciness. The burgers themselves, were expertly grilled to a nice medium that was bolstered up even more by beautiful inner workings of veggies and the lime and jerk sauce infusion. Spice from the basting and pepper jack cheese was countered by the sweet pineapple and topped with a little kick from our makeshift salsa, proving that jerk seasoning is not just reserved for chicken.

Like any proper burger, it was difficult to hold in one hand (especially when they are somewhat small and girly like mine)
Yucca Fries
Time: 30 minutes

2 or so lbs of Yucca
Oil for frying (we used peanut)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Transforming the yucca from odd (not at all phallically shaped), wax covered super starch into tender strips ready for frying.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
  2. Peel the yucca and chop it into your preferred fry shape and size (although I doubt curly will work here). Remove any excess stringy material.
  3. Boil the yucca in water with a little oil and salt until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain well and let cool.
  4. Get a large pot ~half filled with oil to 370 F. Fry for 5-7 minutes per batch turning occasionally.
  5. Remove the fries to a plate lined with paper towels to get rid of excess oil. 
  6. Toss with salt and pepper on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven to keep warm.

The yucca is now incognito and surprisingly delicious.
To keep with our island theme, I wanted something to sub in for our usual fries or tater totty goodness. The even starchier yucca was the ultimate choice, narrowly beating out jicama due to the store not having any. The tender, boiled yucca had us worried, but once fried, it crisped up nicely while maintaining its inner softness, yielding a welcome replacement to standard every day potatoes.

Luckily for Kevin and Tovy (and our already elevated cholesterol), I witheld the urge to put a fried egg under the pineapple.
Together, we three combined our man powers of chopping, grilling and drinking beer (which oddly enough was the original way to summon Captain Planet) for the perfect way to celebrate a hard earned weekend. Fortunately, the search for the world's greatest burger is a Sisyphean task that will keep us occupied for many a weekend grilling to come.

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