Irons in the Fire

My Rouses Everyday, July/August 2017

I have a Big Green Egg®, which I use for ribs, chicken, pork butts and brisket.

But for a perfect burger, or steak, I use a cast-iron skillet. You can place it on a stovetop if you have good ventilation, or go outside and cook on a power burner or set it right on the grill.

Cast iron holds heat extremely well, so it’s an ideal choice for meat that needs a good sear. The skillet collects all of the rendered liquid so the burgers get to cook in their own juices. Bonus — no flare-ups! And when you cook in a skillet, you get a crust, which to me is one of the best parts of the burger.

Unlike other meats that will cook better if brought to room temperature first, ground beef needs to be cold. After you make your patties they need to go back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before they go in the skillet. Cast iron takes longer to heat than other pans, so while the burgers are chilling, put the skillet on the burner or in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit to get it good and hot.

A little bit of oil in the skillet, and a layer of course-ground kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on the meat will help you get that charred crust you want. Season the patties. Add a tablespoon of Rouses Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other neutral oil like canola to the skillet. If the oil beads and shines when it hits the pan, you’re ready to cook. If it smokes, that means your pan is too hot. Use a paper towel or napkin to spread the oil and lightly grease the bottom of the pan.

Now, add the patties. You don’t want the patties to get too crowded. I have a variety of cast-iron skillets, but I typically use a 12-inch one for burgers. With a 12-inch skillet, you should stick to cooking just two or three patties at a time. It will take about four minutes before the sides of the patties turn from red to brown and you get a crust. At that point, you can flip them. (Resist the urge to flatten the patties with the back of your spatula while you’re cooking. This just presses out the juices.) Once you flip, you’re ready for the sizzle. Take a pat of butter — maybe a quarter of a tablespoon — and place it on top of each patty, the same way you would on a steak. Cook for three to four minutes, until it’s fully crusted. Add the cheese, and cover and cook for 30 seconds to melt it.

Remember to clean your skillet after cooking. The best way to clean cast iron is to scour it with kosher salt and a kitchen towel while it’s still warm. Dry the skillet, then wipe it down with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Say Yes to the Dressed

I like my burger fully dressed, and then some. Stacking lets you add flavor to every bite. The trick is to use a toasted bun, which will help the burger hold up better. Spread your first (or only) condiment on the bottom bun, then add the patty. Cheese goes next, then the lettuce and onion, then tomato. Top it off with crispy bacon, a fried egg, and a bun slathered with mayo or creamy avocado.

Chile Today, Hot Tomorrow

Hatch green chiles are grown in Hatch, New Mexico, where hot days, cool nights and rich volcanic soil give this seasonal favorite its flavor. We roast them at our stores, but I typically do my own at home for a mock Jack cheeseburger. You can broil the chiles in the oven or char them on the grill. When the chiles are charred on all sides, transfer them to a large resealable bag. Close the bag and let steam for 10 minutes. This will make it easier to get rid of charred skins, stems and seeds. Slice the chiles into strips and set aside. When it’s time to add cheese to your burger, place the peppers first, followed by a mound of shredded Monterey Jack.

Get ’Em While They’re Hot!

The typical season for hatch chiles runs from August through the end of September, but harvest dates can change. We’ll list our roasting schedule as soon as they pick the peppers.