Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Spicy Taco Burgers with Pico de Gallo

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

The idea for this burger came to me during a discussion about Mexican Risotto and Chorizo. Aside from the Mexican Risotto, my family uses Chorizo as the basis for our taco meat, and has for years. It adds a heat and a flavor that you won’t find in any spice packet. I was trying to think of something new I could make, and that’s when the idea of the taco burger came to me. The burger is made with a combination of Chorizo and ground beef. We topped these burgers with homemade pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and a little bit of sour cream in place of the traditional ketchup/mustard/pickles. And the results were pretty tasty.

Taco Burgers

For burgers:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb mexican Chorizo
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 1/2 inch chunks of sharp cheddar cheese.

For toppings:

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until the ground beef and chorizo have thoroughly mixed. Let rest for about 15 minutes, to let the flavors meld. (I used this time to prepare the pico de gallo and other toppings)

2. Cut a portion of the cheese into 1/2 inch thick chunks, about the size of two postage stamps across.

3. Begin to form patties from the hamburger mixture, pressing a chunk of cheese into the center of each patty and then molding the patty around it so that the cheese forms the center of the burger.

4. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal sized patties and cook the burgers. These could be grilled, if you use clean, oiled grill grates to avoid sticking, but here in Chicago, in January, I cooked these on the stove, using our grill pan. (Similar to the one you see here). It took about 8 minutes on each side to cook these burgers thoroughly. I lightly oiled the grill pan, to avoid sticking. Remember, the Chorizo is pork, and needs to be cooked through completely–longer than you might cook your burgers normally. You won’t overcook the beef, though. The spicy pork sausage brings plenty of moisture to the burger.

5. Serve on toasted buns with pico de gallo or salsa, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

Note: These flavors were really, really good. I had a little bit of a problem with the burgers holding together in the cooking process. I believe I could fix that next time by using something to bind them–right now, I’m imagining a little bit of egg and tortilla chips crushed to crumbs in the food processor instead of bread crumbs. Even with the burgers threatening to crumble at the edges, they were still delicious and pretty simple to make. I’ll definitely be trying these again.

P.S. I know I’ve used it here before, but remember, Chorizo is a spicy mexican sausage. You can get it in most regular grocery stores, usually in the meat case with other sausages. It brings a salty flavor to the dish, so go easy on the salt. Spanish style chorizo is also available at some stores, but for this, you want the mexican style. The Spanish Chorizo is cured and smoked, and has a pepperoni-like texture. Mexican Chorizo is an entirely different thing.

“Recipe” for Pico de Gallo

The word “recipe” is in quotes because this is more of a method than a true recipe. Pico is one of those things that can be “right” twelve different ways, and is really dependent on how you want it to taste. So here’s what I did, and feel free to make adjustments to the amount of ingredients as you go.

  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, and 1/2 of the jalapeno in a small mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice and fresh cilantro. Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about 3-5 minutes to let the flavors meld, and then taste again. Add more lime juice, cilantro, or jalapeno, as desired. Sometimes, a pinch of sugar (1/4 teaspoon) can help to tone down the acidity of winter tomatoes.

Note: I skipped the jalapeno. If you like spicy, add as much as you like.

Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I enjoy cooking, but sometimes I want something quick and easy and this definitely qualifies. It’s simple, but it really hits the spot for a pizza craving, and the way I make it, it’s a lot healthier too. It’s delicious as it is, but if you’re not very health conscious, you could certainly use higher-fat ingredients. I don’t think you need to, though.

Bubble Up Pizza Casserole

  • 1 pound 96% lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped (I skipped the onion)
  • 16 oz. low-fat pizza sauce
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 17 slices Turkey Pepperoni
  • 15 oz. refrigerated breadsticks or biscuit dough
  • 2 c. part skim milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Veggie Toppings (feel free to add any vegetables you’d put on pizza: mushrooms, olives, whatever. I personally skip the veggies on my pizza, so I skipped them here too)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In skillet, brown beef and pepperoni over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain beef and return to skillet. Stir in onion, tomato sauce, Pizza sauce, basil, garlic and Italian seasoning.

2. Add veggies, if using. Add quartered biscuits; stir gently until biscuits are covered with sauce. Spoon mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until biscuits are done. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Note: I’ve made this one before, and I’m sure I’ll make it again. I like it better with breadstick dough than with the biscuit dough, but it was good both ways. The directions may sound strange, but the dough pieces puff up from inside the dish to take the place of pizza crust. It’s really good.

Pasta e Fagioli

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Throughout my tenure as a server at the Olive Garden, I had what seems like millions of breadsticks and at least 100,000 bowls of soup. This soup at the OG is a lot like chili, but with an Italian twist. This recipe recreates it pretty well, with a few punched up ingredients.

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Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 8

  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (about 1 cup)  (I buy pre-shredded carrots)
  • 3 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained (I used San Marzanos this time, and they were amazing)
  • 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable juice (I used V8)
  • 15-oz. can red kidney beans, undrained
  • 15-oz. can great northern beans, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) uncooked ditalini pasta (I used small shells)
  • freshly grated parmesan and croutons or garlic toast for garnish

Brown the ground beef, in a stock pot, stirring to break it up until no longer pink and cooked through; drain off any drippings.

Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery to the pot; cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add remaining ingredients (except pasta); reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. When there are just 10 minutes of cooking time left, prepare the pasta as package directs for al dente noodles; drain.

Add pasta to soup and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.