Burger Bonanza … and cheese skirts

Tips and Tools

Pre-make Individual Portions in Freezer Bags
Hamburger Portions

Essential for the best kitchen burgers: a cast-iron skillet
Cast Iron Skillet
I can make burger in a non-stick pan but the best burgers need to be a bit charred and, in the absence of a BBQ, a cast iron skillet is the way to go.


Of course I recommend these burgers bunless

Julia’s Pan-Fried Thin Burger

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots or onions
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound fresh ground beef, preferably 15 to 20 percent fat
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

The key is to fry the onions/shallots first, then mix them with the raw hamburger meat (butter brings the taste of the beef out much better than olive oil). Randomly throwing in any spices that grab your imagination (onion powder, chili, chives, that leftover guacamole mix) keeps it interesting.

Make your patties very thin and pack them just enough that they won’t fall apart while cooking. Give them a good charring on in the frying pan or freeze them per above for frying later.


The Aussie Burger
… or simply “Get creative with stuff you throw on top”

  • Avocado – Yes
  • Any kind of sauce you can dream up without sugar – yes
  • Runny Fried Egg – absolutely
  • Cottage Cheese – why not
  • American Processed Cheese – why not go for the real stuff?
  • Fried Bacon, Onions and/or Mushrooms – of course
  • Something you made out of sour cream and dill that didn’t quite turn out right – load it up

Aussie Burger


Burger With Cheese Skirt

A 1/3-pound ground beef patty (80/20 meat to fat ratio) gets grilled on a flat top, and turned once. … The burger then gets blanketed in a mess of shredded mild cheddar cheese, and covered (partially) with the top of the hamburger bun. Then—and this is where the engineering comes in—a few ice cubes are tossed onto the flat top, and the whole thing is covered for 4-5 minutes, steaming and crisping up the cheese into what could be considered a skirt-like shape.

Warning: I’ve experimented with this and using ice to create the skirt is a disaster in a regular frying pan. It will only work on a flat top. In a pan you get cheese soup.

I’ve acheived the desired effect by simply using a non-stick frying pan and dumping a wad of grated cheese directly onto the burger after turning once.

Burger With Cheese Skirt


Cheese Skirt without the Burger
Using this same method, you can skip the burger altogether and make yourself a crispy naked “cheese skirt” (aka fried grated cheese). It is like eating the crispy part on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich… without the sandwich.

Yummy… and high fat factor mean you are full pretty quickly. It’s a quick comfort food.

Pan Fried Cheese: This is probably as close to junk food as low carb gets.


Next Experiment: Cheese skirts with bacon… and onion.


The Cost of Eating Well

“Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe,” said Daniel W. Basse of the AgResource Company, a Chicago consultancy. “But if they do, we’re going to need another two or three globes to grow it all.”
      – A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can’t Fill


What does it cost to eat meat?

We all know that commodity prices have been rising rapidly and it is starting to bite (sorry) at the checkout counter.

Here in Asia, this is causing a bit of a rice shortage as consumers stockpile and horde in anticipation of further increases to come.

Surprisingly, the BBC reports that the rising cost of grain and transportation does not yet appear to have fed through (sorry – I did it again) to meat prices:

Food Prices

But there are other costs of eating meat.

One of the dilemmas I have as an omnivore is that there is no denying the environmental cost of eating meat is huge compared to that of eating grains. There is more land use, more water consumption and, at present population levels, the intensive farming used to meet rising demand comes with massive problems of deforestation and waste.

We are increasingly told that to share the earth’s resources in a fair and sustainable fashion, we all need to become vegetarians. And it’s not just the greens that are calling for elimination of meat. Even governments are starting to voice this message.

Certainly if I felt my health would not be adversely affected, I would happily follow this advice. But this is not just about taking some extra time to separate out my recyclable waste. I believe this threatens the well being of myself and those around me.

Although there is evidence that some meat in the diet actually optimizes land use, this vague proposal would limit meat consumption to 2 ounces a day which falls well short of needs for optimal nutrition.

The Future is Here

Our collective vision of the Malthusian future, in which the planet is burdened by overpopulation, is painted in images of starving children with bloated bellies, listless as the flies of death descend upon them.

But the fact that we have reached a point where the earth can no longer provide all humans with the diet they are most suited to means that over population is not some point down the road. It has arrived and we are suffering now. We just can’t see it for what it is.

I don’t doubt that there is a tradgedy of the commons that is taking place on a global scale. So perhaps the “right” thing to do is to make the individual sacrifice and be as green as possible.

However personal sacrifices by a fringe minority do not solve global issues. Global issues need systematic and global solutions. Without a mass movement – something almost impossible without legislation – such efforts are sentimental and ineffective.

We’re backed into this corner because economists can value quantity but not quality and we still haven’t escaped from this mind set.

We may have some room to go to maximize the quantity of human lives, but clearly we can see the quality of those lives has been, in many ways, on a long term decline.

There is no getting around the fact that eating meating has its costs.

But the burdens of accomodating a bloated planet growing ever more bloated on a grain based diet are arguably costlier in the long run.


Tangential Reading


Will the humble butcher survive?

One More Point to Meat Eaters..

It’s logical to assume but now there is research to back it up.

Dr. Mike has chanced upon some research which shows that vegetarians have significantly higher rates of advanced glycation end products (AGE) compared to omnivores.

Advanced glycation end products are the junk protein that result when protein combines with sugar. As vegetarians would tend to have higher levels of blood sugar (given that their diet is higher in carbohydrates), the result is more AGE.

This junk protein results in cellular debris and when enough accumulates, cells don’t function properly. It is thought to be one of the drivers of the aging process.

Someone please tell Scott Adams.

It’s sugar-free!
BBQ'd Lamb