Beer Chili Burgers

I been a fan of Rachael Ray’s for several years. I’ve been one since seeing her Food Network Show, “30 Minute Meals,” for the first time. I don’t remember what it was about, but that really doesn’t matter.

Ray is the latest celebrity to contribute to The Associated Press’ “20 Burgers of Summer” series. According to AP  Food Editor J.M. Hirsch, size matter with burgers in Ray’s estimation.  She told him in an e-mail interview that she considers herself an equal opportunity eater when it comes to burger varieties, her favorites are the trendy two- and three-bite versions.

“I make so many different types of burgers it’s unfair to play favorites,” Ray said. “But I do believe the best burgers come in slider size. I am slider obsessed. They are easy to hold, easier to cook perfectly and the bun never gets soggy.”

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that for the series Ray offered a ground sirloin slider jammed with flavor from Worcestershire sauce, herbs, ancho chili powder and — for good measure — beer.

To boost the flavor even more, she bastes the burgers as they cook with a homemade maple syrup-spiked smoky barbecue sauce and tops them with pickled cucumbers and an oil-and-vinegar red cabbage slaw.

“The killer part of this recipe is my spicy pickle recipe and my homemade BBQ sauce recipe,” said Ray, who served the burger at a block party she threw in Brooklyn in June. “I am really proud of it and can’t stop talking about it.”

Beer Chili Burgers
2 pounds ground sirloin
Montreal Steak Seasoning (by McCormick) or a blend of kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
½ cup beer
¼ cup vegetable oil
Barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
10 slider (small burger) rolls
Spicy kirby cucumber slices (recipe follows)
Oil-and-vinegar slaw (recipe follows)
Heat a grill to medium.
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat with the steak seasoning (or salt and pepper). Add the Worcestershire, marjoram, thyme, chili powder and beer. Mix thoroughly.
Form the mixture into 10 slider-sized (use your rolls as a guide) patties, then drizzle each with a bit of the vegetable oil.
Place the sliders on the grill and cook for 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, basting liberally with the barbecue sauce as they cook.
Place the burgers on the rolls and top with cucumber slices and slaw.
Yield: 10 sliders.
Approximate nutritional analysis per slider with condiments (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 405 calories, 164 calories from fat, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated, no trans), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 671 milligrams sodium.

Spicy Kirby Cucumber Slices
2 cups white balsamic or cider vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, halved
4 bay leaves
2/3 cup water
1 small red chili pepper, sliced
4 kirby (pickling) cucumbers, cut into ¼-inch slices
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh dill
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
In a small saucepan over high, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the chili pepper, cucumber slices, onion, dill, mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Pour in the hot brine.
Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.
Yield: 3 cups.

Smoky Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark amber (Grade B) maple syrup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
In a small saucepan over medium-low, combine all ingredients. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside to cool.
Yield: 1½ cups

Oil and Vinegar Slaw

½ pound shredded red cabbage
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Celery salt, to taste
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and toss thoroughly.
Note: Ray suggests you prepare the slaw just before making the burgers.
Yield: 3 cups.

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