52 Foods Week Forty Nine: Ground Beef

As promised, it’s time for burgers. Burgers may be my favorite meal. In Portland, I did a pretty good job of maintaining at least a burger a week habit, and before we moved to Davis, I made a bucket list that was largely driven by a desire for burgers I’d heard about but hadn’t had yet. Over the last couple years, I’ve tried to perfect my technique to deliver my ideal, medium-rare burger.

We recently joined a meat CSA called the Foragers. Each month we receive a mix of beef, lamb, and chicken. We invited a friend over, and busted out a one pound package of 85% lean ground beef. I’ve found that 1/3 pound burgers are the perfect size—meaty and filling, without being overwhelming. I generally prefer something closer to 75-80% lean beef, but I’m not too picky, as long as it isn’t very lean.


I divided the beef into equal portions and formed some thick patties.

Weighing Burgers

Then I pressed some salt and pepper into each side of the patties.

Salt and Pepper

I put some bacon grease in a cast iron skillet and sautéed some onions.

Onions in Bacon Grease

When the onions were done, I put the burgers in. I use a frequent flipping method, flipping every minute. As detailed by A Hamburger Today, this method helps retain moisture and reduce the ratio of overcooked to medium rare meat.

Burgers in the Skillet

I find that nine minutes is about the perfect cooking time for medium-rare. When they were done, I removed them to the buns. I like mayo and a bit of dijon on mine. I added a nice dollop of chèvre to the burger.

Chèvre on the Burger

Since tomatoes are very out-of-season, and persimmons are very in season, I added some sliced Fuyu persimmons.

Persimmons on Top

Finally, I added some butter leaf lettuce and the sautéed onions.

Onions and Lettuce

Everyone got to make the burger the way she liked it.

Everyone Is Ready

The goat cheese and persimmon were a killer combo, a little sweet and much better than a December tomato would have been. Though I enjoy a wide variety of cheeses on my burgers, I’ve found recently that soft cheeses, such as chèvre or bleu cheese, added after the burger is done cooking, are really doing it for me. All the photos are here.

52 Foods Week Forty Eight: Ground Pork

I spent much of this week contemplating recipes for persimmons, a fruit I only first had last Monday, even going so far as a failed chutney attempt. While coming up empty on good persimmon ideas, I was inspired by our friend Tracy who put out a call for meatloaf recipes. It’s been years since I last made meatloaf, and with Jen and I both furiously working on finishing the school quarter, it seemed like a perfect comfort dish that would also yield a meal or two of leftovers. This week could have gone either of two directions, pork or beef, as I use both in equal proportions. I chose pork because I’m still hoping to showcase my burger skills before the year is out.

I picked up a half pound each of Llano Seco organic pork and Five Dot Ranch beef, both freshly ground by the Davis Co-Op.

Beef to the Left, Pork to the Right

I put the ground meat in a bowl and added about a cup of finely chopped onion, a chopped garlic clove and two ribs of celery.

Onion, Garlic and Celery

Next I added a bunch of bread crumbs and an egg.

Breadcrumbs and Egg

Finally, I spiced it with a teaspoon and a half of salt, a tablespoon of dijon mustard and ground black pepper all over the top.

Salt, Pepper and Dijon

Next came the fun part, getting into the bowl wrist deep and mixing it all together.

Playing with My Food

When it was all mixed together, I filled a loaf pan and covered it with foil. I placed it in an oven at 350° F for 30 minutes, after which I removed the foil and continued cooking it at 400&deg F; for another 30 minutes, until it had reached an internal temperature of 160° F.

We sliced it up and enjoyed it with baked potatoes. This meatloaf is super easy to make, and has a great meatloaf taste—lots of umami, just like meatloaf should be.


Photos here.

52 Foods Week Forty Five: Brisket

My friend Leon and I were planning a meal for about a dozen people, so we cruised the Farmers’ Market looking for inspiration and ingredients. We knew we wanted a nice hunk of meat to roast, so we stopped by the Yolo Land & Cattle booth to see what beef was available. Yolo Land & Cattle’s raises some excellent grass-fed beef, just north of us in Woodland, CA. I’ve enjoyed a few cuts from them, and always been pleased.

Given the number of people we were feeding, we settled on a nice seven and a half pound slab of brisket. Brisket is something I usually leave to others who are more adept at it than I am, whether it’s Laurelhurst Market or my good friend Sarah, and I was a little nervous about tackling this. The only other time I’ve tried to make brisket was last Christmas, and while it turned out okay, it didn’t really achieve the proper tenderness until the second time I reheated the leftovers. Hoping to avoid that fate again, I carved out seven hours for the brisket to cook, and consulted numerous recipes before coming up with my plan.

I placed the brisket fat side up in a large roasting pan, then covered it with a dry rub of salt, paprika, peppers, mustard seed, coriander and sugar.


Next I added some knobby carrots from Fiddler’s Green to the pan, and placed it in the middle of the oven at 300°F.

With Carrots

After about three hours, the fat was really starting to melt, and the brisket’s aroma filled the kitchen. I pulled it out, and flipped it over, then added about a cup of red wine to the pan and covered it with foil.

Flip Brisket Add Wine

The brisket went back in the oven for close to four more hours. I pulled it out at 5:45pm when it had reached an internal temperature of 190°F. It sat covered for about an hour, while we prepared the rest of the meal, then Leon sliced it and the carrots and we reduced the pan drippings and drizzled some of them over the meat before serving. This brisket was tender and subtly spiced. It was especially delicious with a bit of carrot and potato on the end of the fork.

Finished Brisket with Carrots

All the photos are here.