Shamefully my writing has withered on the vine of no inspiration with little done to resuscitate breath or form. My time has been spent in part, patiently waiting in mock scholarly fashion upon the odd laboratory set up in the recesses of my kitchen cupboard where lacto-fermentation experiments age to near perfection. In unison it would seem, I too slung slow in quiet invisible reverie, imitating the very manner of my closeted minuscular cohorts. After all who needs the fuss of too many singular ingredients chopped and cooked just so, added to the synchronization of each moving part into one harmonic whole? I’ve got kraut with pow, zip, and swing; and I don’t mind saying that it has become my “go to” accessory which enlivens and occasionally even rectifies just about every food scenario.
But months of crunching upon lactic acid soaked veggies has created a now gnawing need for an opulent, richly marbled counterpart, something perhaps- like a fatty pink patty. As it is a rare occasion when I purchase beef and though devilishly armed with my beloved Foreman Grill, something quite extraordinary must stroll my way in order to be steered in that direction. Something perhaps like a bejeweled burger richly anointed.
The first iteration of this beef motif showed up with the same friend who brought me the B-52’s and LOTR. Armed with sliced butter pickles and cheese, we formed hunks of ground chuck into lumpy softballs and wiggled our thumbs into the sides, meat doughnuts asking to be filled. Coins of pickles and wads of Kraft American were obligingly stuffed into their hidden caves. Pan fried and no nonsensically slapped onto a bun, this was a true gustatory revelation eaten in hungry silence. Years later I would upgrade to a slightly more refined version of the“secret” burger now containing a royal cache of blue cheese and chopped onion. However as delicious as it was, I couldn’t help feeling led astray by the name. The tell tale crumbles of Blue which should have hollered out “Ahoy!” instead melted down into an invisible nonexistent whimper, a mere whiff of eau d’bleu.
So rightfully pleased I was to discover this third and most charmed version in a recent Saveur perusal. In this Swede inspired dream, cubes of pickled beets make merry with chopped pickles, onions, and even chunks of dairy rich butter. Being ever so efficiently designed, the pickled bits and creamy counterparts are simply mixed into the venison/beef/reindeer rather than stuffed and sealed. Served in my mind on rye bread with a hearty back slap of stout mustard and blue cheese, this burger brings the best of all worlds seen and in between. To boot, the red cabbage kraut I have been nurturing these past months would make a most welcomed mouthwatering and visual partner.
In other terms this burger represents at least one of my favorite flavor profiles, the one that might wear a handmade fisherman sweater, smoke a pipe, and shout out, “Ahoy”. But then there is that confusing pink coloration which makes one fear the meat is far too rare, all the while flaunting a somewhat feminine lilt of allspice. In deep consideration of this little bit of heaven lovingly seared in butter with a barely sweet tender center; perhaps pink holds more complexity than previously assumed. No one liner relegated to bubble gum and soda fountain drinks, this intersection between red and white just might be where intensity and gentleness play. And that is absolutely worth writing about.
*Thank you to everyone who continues to read in spite of my travels to faraway places...
Biff à la Lindström: adapted from Saveur issue no. 117, serves 4
1 lb. ground beef
½ C bread crumbs
5 tbsp. chopped pickled beets
2 tbsp. pickled beet juice
3 tbsp. chopped pickles
2 tbsp. dark beer
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 eggs beaten
1 clove garlic chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. butter diced
2 tbsp. parsley chopped
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl until just mixed. Divide mixture into 8 patties, one inch thick. Heat butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook half of the burgers, approximately 5 minutes each side until browned. Repeat with remaining burgers. Enjoy with coarse mustard, blue cheese, rye bread, and kraut.