Summer Chicken Burgers

The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind.  We’ve been working on the house, trying to get things in order as far as legal and financial things go, I’m swimming in vegetables as I am trying to get as many things put up for the winter as possible, oh, and we found out we’re expecting another baby in April 2011 (hence the cute little fruit ticker on the side).  Needless to say, I’m a little breathless from it all!  Excited, but breathless.  Prior to all this, Matt and I had been working on a few grilling recipes that I just never got around to posting.  Today’s recipe was so good that we made it 3 times in one week, making sure it was just right of course.  To be honest, I loved the flavor of the toasted ciabatta bread with the burger, but it was a huge mess to eat.  Challah rolls might be the answer to this conundrum.  However, I do not have a good recipe for them.  Therefore, if you do let me know!
Since I grew up vegetarian, I do like to fall back on lighter meats, especially in the summer.  For Christmas, my grandmother gifted us with the meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen aid and I’ve been chomping at the bit for the perfect use for it.  Turns out that the chicken came through it beautifully.  Matt didn’t use the finest setting, but went for a middle of the road size for the meat.  We’ve done this both with meat we ground and meat the butcher had done herself and both ways it was wonderful.  This recipe is quick and can be prepared in advance only to be pulled out and grilled just prior to serving.  But be forewarned: everyone ate at least 2 burgers so have extras!
Summer Chicken Burgers
  • 1/2 Tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 cup Panko or plain bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • salt and pepper
Mix the herbs, mustard powder, salt, pepper and Panko together thoroughly before incorporating into the chicken.  Depending on how fresh your chicken is, you may need more bread crumbs to help it bind.  Divide the chicken into 3-4 ounce patties and chill for half an hour before grilling.  Grill until done, about 5 minutes.  Serve with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Jazzed up Mayo on the bread of your choice.
Balsamic Caramelized Onions
  • 2 large Sweet Onions
  • 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
Thinly slice the onions and saute in a shallow pan with the butter until they are tender.  Lower the heat to about a simmer and add the vinegar.  Stirring frequently to keep from sticking, cook the onions until they are dark and melded together into a caramelized heap in your pan.  Serve on top of the chicken burgers or eat straight out of the pan as a snack.
Jazzed up Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
(I truly do prefer fresh parsley to the dried version, but the day before I went to make this, I saw several green caterpillars on my parsley plants.  When I went out to cut some parsley, it was all gone.  Greedy little buggers.) Whisk the ingredients together and use in place of your usual condiments on sandwiches.  This is an excellent way to introduce the sharper flavor of Dijon to children, too!

**Notes for feeding the cheflets: If you have a baby who is now at the stage where they can eat the pureed meats, this is perfect.  Grill up the burgers and then break off portions and smash them with a fork to make them easy for your little one.  If your children are older, you may want to just serve these burgers with regular wheat (or white in the case of the picky child whose serving was photographed above). 

Grilled Tilapia

I love my cast iron skillet.  I really like the crust that forms on breads baked in it and the way it keeps the moisture in a casserole.  I have a ceramic top stove, so I have to be very careful with how it’s handled and I will forever regret not listening to my mother-in-law when we were stove shopping and she suggested a gas stove.  Biggest regret of my kitchen.  Anyway, my cousin’s husband told me how he used their cast iron skillet to cook fish on their grill and I was stunned with the possibility!  I honestly never even considered that as an option, but am thrilled to have it as something new in my arsenal of summer meals!

Skillet grilled Tilapia:

  • 6 tilapia fillets
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper

Turn on your grill and place your cast iron skillet on the heat.  Mix together the seasonings and sprinkle over the tilapia.  When you can sprinkle water on the skillet and it beads up and fizzes, put a small pat of butter in the skillet to keep the fish from sticking and then place the fillets on the hot surface.  Cook the tilapia until flaky, flipping only once to brown each side.  (It took about 5 minutes on our gas grill to cook.)  Serve with broccoli or green beans and a pasta salad.