Fire up the grill (or broiler) for a burger feast

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Following the Independence Day holiday I think of summer and the grilling season in full swing, which for us, usually involves hamburgers on the grill. Ralph and Martha Maxton of Cape Girardeau recently had family in town for a visit. They made this recipe for cherry burgers with cherry ketchup, which sounds absolutely wonderful. I have included one recipe for an indoor cooking process just in case rain puts a damper on your plans.

Cherry Burgers with Cherry Ketchup

1/2 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla-Walla, cut into thin rounds

12 ounces lean ground beef

1/2 cup dried cherries, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 whole-wheat English muffins, split

4 lettuce leaves

1/4 cup Cherry Ketchup (recipe below)

Place onion in a medium bowl, cover with ice water and let soak while you prepare burgers.

Preheat grill to medium or use oven broiler. Place beef in a large bowl and gently mix in cherries, breadcrumbs, garlic, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper until combined.

Divide into four equal portions and form into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Make a slight impression in the center of each, so the patties cook evenly and don't puff up.

Oil the grill rack.

Grill the patties until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees, 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Toast English muffins. Drain the onions. Assemble the burgers on the English muffins with onion slices, lettuce and about 1 tablespoon Cherry ketchup each.

Broiler variation: Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. Broil patties three to four inches from the heat source until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees, four to five minutes per side.

Cherry Ketchup:

1 10-ounce package (2 cups) frozen pitted cherries, (not in syrup)

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine pitted cherries, dried cherries, vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cool slightly.

Transfer to a blender. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel. Holding lid securely in place, blend until smooth. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.)

Transfer the ketchup to a small bowl.

To prepare in advance, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

The Perfect Hamburger

24 ounces ground chuck

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Spice mix, optional (recipe below)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 slices cheese, such as cheddar, American, Saga blue cheese or Swiss, optional

4 soft hamburger-style buns, split

4 slices beefsteak tomatoes, optional

Assorted lettuces and greens, such as iceberg, romaine or watercress

Assorted mustards, such as whole-grained, Dijon or French's, optional

Mayonnaise, optional

Ketchup, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a roasting rack on a foil-lined baking sheet in the oven.

Using your hands, break the meat into small pieces and combine evenly but loosely on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Spread the meat out and season it generously with salt and pepper. If desired, add the spice mix at this time. Divide the meat into four portions, about 6 ounces each. Using your hands, form each portion into a ball shape by gently tossing it from one hand to the other. Don't overwork or press too firmly on the meat. Gently form each portion into a patty about 3 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the oil. Add the patties and cook, turning once, until well-browned, about 2 minutes each side. Using a spatula, transfer the hamburgers to the roasting rack in the oven and continue cooking 13 to 15 minutes for well-done. If you are using the cheese, top the hamburgers during the last couple of minutes of cooking to melt. Transfer the hamburgers to a plate, let rest for a couple minutes before serving. Meanwhile, toast the hamburger buns. Assemble the hamburgers with the condiments and toppings of your choice. Serve.

Spice Mix: Combine 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons onion powder and hot sauce, to taste

Spicy Cranberry Turkey Burger

For a little change of pace, try using ground turkey in place of ground beef.

For the patties:

1 pound turkey meat ground or finely chopped

1 handful chopped spring onion

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

4 pinches paprika powder

1 pinch barbecue spice

Freshly ground black pepper


1 handful fresh bread crumbs

1 egg lightly beaten

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon/stock cube dissolved in 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Mix all the patty ingredients thoroughly, leaving the salt for after the patties are cooked if you prefer. Make sure the mixture is cool. Divide mixture into 4 equal balls and mold into patties. Cook on low heat under the grill, on the barbecue or in a pan until cooked through.

For the cranberry sauce:

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 small dash of cider vinegar

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 pinch grated ginger

1 pinch mixed spice

Pat of butter

Cook onion over low heat in butter until soft, add the other ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes.

For the rolls:

4 rolls

4 thin slices light cheese

Thinly sliced onion



Split the rolls and toast the cut surfaces lightly (under grill, on barbecue or in pan) just before the patties are done. Spread a little mayonnaise on the bottom half of the roll, add a thin slice of onion, some lettuce, the patty, the slice of cheese, some cranberry sauce and the other half of the roll.

Have a great week and, until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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