Lessons in Burger Partying
Article by Kevin Vaughn. You know him by now.
My “American-ness” generally makes me feel like a walking contradiction. I get flustered and defensive when people say that healthy eating does not exist in the United States. We’re just a bunch of fatties that eat a Simpson’s style bacon and pancake breakfast (comen pesado a la mañana, ¿no?), pork down some fast food for lunch, round it out with a giant pizza for dinner, all the while sprinkling the day with soda and cans of Pringles. Granted, when I took some friends home last Christmas for a month long California road trip we all gained about 5 pounds. I blame that more on the glitter in their eyes when they saw their first thirty rack, but I digress.
Then the go-to filler question arrives, “What do you miss about the United States?” My eyes go wide, drool rabidly falls from my mouth and I stop speaking in complete sentences. Milkshakes! Buffalo Wings! Dr. Pepper! Waffle Fries! High Fructose Corn Syrup! With a final guttural cry, CHEESEBURGERS! Not the expected answers, like say, my friends and family, the comfort of being familiar in my surroundings, my language, no, I just begin to mumble the names of things that make me fat.
I have professed my love for the cheeseburger all over the interwebs. On my blog, my Facebook, Twitter, any virtual space that will have me. It is maybe the simplest and most satisfying food I know, but all you find around these parts is a frozen paty thrown on the grill and topped with lechuga and tomate, and maybe a fried egg, far from completo Buenos Aires. The Office used to make a delicious burger, homemade buns and all, and Burger Joint has picked up where they left off. But I’m not trying to hop on a bus every time I want to be a fatty, which is fairly regular. It would defeat the purpose of sedentariness. I want something across the street, as accessible as a milanesa sandwich.
At MASA we have been brain storming a casual weekend event that still has that dinner party atmosphere but without the formality that goes along with our normal four course meal. We wanted hands-on interactive food that made the night feel like a big party. Thus, “Build A Burger” was born.
Last Saturday we had our first run through as a prize to people who have been a big help since our inception: regular guests, press people and friends that have hosted, hired or recommended us over and over again. The following is how to throw a giant burger party for you and 19 of your most intimate friends.
What you’re going to need:
For the burgers:
- 2.5 kilos of ground beef for 20 burgers
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups of oatmeal
- 4 teaspoons each of cumin, cayenne and cinnamon (I don’t normally measure, this is an approximation of what I use. Feel free to eyeball and add other spices)
Mix ground beef, form 20 patties. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on each patty, cover and refrigerate. We have a long grill that fits over the stove top, preheat whatever your utensil. You want the heat to be even throughout to avoid burgers cooking at different speeds. I like mine medium-rare, or more aptly named here jugosa. I keep watch on the burgers and when the bottom half of the paty has changed color I flip and wait for the rest of it to brown.
For the sauces:
We made 6 different sauces. You can find the Barbecue and Jalapeño Sauces here.
Another favorite was the cream sauce: mix a jar of Dahi Natural Yogurt, in the same jar fill half way with mayonnaise and the other half with milk. Add juice from one lime, mix together with a teaspoon each of oregano, aji molido and cumin. If there is too much of a mayonnaise flavor even out with more milk.
The Wasabi Mayonnaise was also a big player. Take two tablespoons of wasabi powder (you can find it at many dieteticas if you don’t have the ganas to go all the way to Barrio Chino), slowly wet powder with a teaspoon of water at a time until you the powder takes on a solid form. Let sit for 10 minutes and slowly add a full package of mayonnaise (250 grams). I’d recommend making the sauces first or even the night before so that they have a day to sit and let the flavors really mix. We also made some honey mustard, and bought some regular ketchup and mayo.
For the fries and onion rings:
For the fries we used 5 potatoes and about 4 onions. You’d be surprised how little you need to feed a large crowd. We sliced up the fries and put them in the fridge until we were ready to begin frying. We used a simple beer batter for the onion rings made out of 1 cup of beer, 1 cup of flour and an egg. Add a little bit of beer at a time until there are no more clumps. The trick to a good batter is that it needs to leave a trail when you run a fork through it. To measure whether the oil is hot enough I have two methods. One is taking a chop stick, touch the bottom of the pot with the point, if bubbles quickly form around it the oil is ready. Another way is to simply drip a little bit of batter and see if it fries immediately. You don’t want to fry in oil that isn’t hot enough because whatever is being fried will just absorb the oil and you’ll have soggy battered food rather than crunchy fried goodness. Our tip for a large party is to fry everything a little ahead of time and set aside and when you are ready to begin serving throw them in the fryer a second time to heat up and give it a little extra crisp. It takes about 5 minutes to fry really well, and even with two burners going people were kept waiting.
For the sides we put together guacamole, shredded lettuce, a slaw inspired cabbage and carrot salad, sliced pineapple, chimichurri, salsa criolla and pico de gallo. And as the burgers came out people were invited to construct their own burgers however they saw fit. When I went around and asked at the end of the night what were people’s chosen combos, most people gave a contented “everything”. Just as a burger should be, stacked so high you got to work to get it down.
We’ll be hosting our first official Build a Burger night this Friday night. A few spots still available.
Email for reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org