26 September 2013

Cranberry Brie Burgers

Dried fruit has always been one of my absolute favorite snacks.  Sweet, chewy and shrink-packed with flavor, these little tidbits cannot be beat.  Cranberries and prunes (yes, you read right) are two favorites that we always have on hand.  A few of these as an after dinner snack always hits that sweet spot oh-so-well (plus they're a great warm up for dessert).  Since I typically nosh on these post-supper, these burgers are like a two-for-one special in the evening.  The snack and the meal are combined into one delectable dish.  So efficient.

Now I could go on for ages singing the praises of dried fruit, but there is another element in the name that I'm sure you want to cover...the brie.  Creamy, flavorful, wonderful brie.  Heat it up and just watch the foodies around you swoon with longing.  Take the hubs, for example.  Baked brie is his all-time favorite appetizer.  I mean, a wheel of cheese wrapped in phyllo dough...what's not to love?  It can be dressed down with herbs and garlic or dressed up with fruit...such as cranberries!  Add a pinch of brown sugar and some chopped almonds and you'll be in ooey-gooey heaven.  

When it comes to hot cheese, brie certainly reigns supreme.  That is, as long as it's contained in some way.  If you throw a chunk alone on a plate and give it a zap, you will have a hot mess (a tasty puddle of a mess, but still a mess).  So brie on top of burgers...not so great.  But fill that burger patty with brie and you have an absolute win.  

Taking a bite out of this burger is like cutting into a chocolate lava cake.  The outside is delicious, but it's the inside you really want.  Hot, melty brie comes oozes out of the burger for the ultimate cheesy delight.  But even with innards of brie, you can't settle for any throw-away patty on the outside.  Enter these delicious cranberry and thyme studded burgers.  The tart sweetness of the cranberry is absolutely divine with ground beef, and the herbs help tie everything together wonderfully.  If you don't have fresh thyme, rosemary would also be quite lovely in here.  

In our home, a burger isn't a burger until it has toppings.  But this is certainly no place for tomatoes or mustard.  To play off the flavors in the patty below, I absolutely love a heaping pile of caramelized onions on top.  They echo the sweetness of the cranberries and richness of the brie perfectly, and add yet another layer of decadence onto your bun.  Since this was a post-work dinner, these are only one-hour onions, but if you have the time for two-hour onions, you will find them even more delicious (aren't they always?)  We like to use thin buns for weeknight dinners, but feel free to use a potato bun or telera roll (yum!) if like Sir Mix-a-Lot you prefer bigger buns.

Baby got brie.

Cranberry Brie Burgers (makes 3 burgers)
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tbs finely minced onion
  • 3/4 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (depending on how much herb flavor you desire)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper 
  • 3 oz brie, thinly sliced
  • 3 hamburger buns
  • 1/2 c spinach

Place a large pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Cut the ends off your onion and remove the peel.  Stand the onion on one of the cut ends and slice in half from top to bottom.  Cut into quarters, then each quarter in half so you end up with the onion sliced into eights.  

Transfer the onion slices to the hot pan and stir until they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and stir again.  Cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned.  If you find the onions are cooking too fast, reduce the heat a bit and continue cooking.  The trick is to stir only when the onions start to stick, but not let them burn.

Pre-heat your grill or grill pan to medium-high.  To make the burgers, combine the beef, minced onion, garlic, Worcestershire, cranberries and thyme in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, then mix together with your hands until ingredients are evenly distributed.  Form into six thin patties and transfer to a cutting board.  Lay the brie slices over three of the patties, leaving a boarder around the edge.  Top with the three remaining patties.  Pinch the edges together to seal, reshaping if necessary.  (Be sure to seal well so your brie doesn't escape!)

Place the patties on the heated grill surface and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side, until burgers are fragrant and releasing their juices.  (For a well done burger, cook an additional minute on each side.)  Add the buns to the top rack or over indirect heat during the last minute to lightly toast.  

Remove the patties to a plate lined with a paper towel to rest.  Lay a few leaves of spinach on the bottom bun before topping with a burger.  Pile with as many caramelized onions as you desire and serve hot.  Wonderful with a dried cranberry salad (me) or jalapeno kettle chips (the hubs).  

No comments:

Post a Comment