Beef

The Ollie Burger

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And now for something a little different:

Anyone remember Lum’s Restaurant or Ollie’s Trolley?  The only reason to go to Lum’s was the Ollie Burger created by Oliver G. Gleichenhaus and the recipe eventually sold to Lum’s.  Only one Lum’s remains open, in Nebraska, and that Lum’s sadly has no Ollie Burger. 

 I have been on the search for a copycat Ollie Burger recipe for years and finally found what claims to be the original recipe (http://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_14/2008/JAN/29430.html) and developed a method to use it to get the original flavor profile.  The suggested method did not impart the marinade spices into the burger enough. 

 The change I made was to marinate 3/4 lbs of boneless Short Ribs and 3/4 lbs of Sirloin, each cut into 1 inch cubes, in the Ollie Burger marinade for 2 hours and then course ground it into ground beef.  After forming 6 oz. burgers, I bagged them and cooked them sous vide for 45 minutes at 135F.  Once out of the water bath, I let the burgers rest for 10 minutes, basted them with more marinade and seared them on a super hot grill for about 1 minute on each side topping the burgers with mozzarella after flipping.  I then slathered a toasted multi-grain bun, not original, with Ollie’s Bun Sauce, plated the burger, and enjoyed.  This is the Ollie Burger.  I used one slice of mozzarella.  Next time, I will use two. 

No reason to fret if you have not yet explored Sous Vide cooking.   The key here is marinating the meat in the Ollie Burger Sauce and grinding it into the ground beef.  

Again not original, I served with a Japanese Potato Salad; recipe from this month’s Milk Street Magazine.  The potato salad almost stole the show, but not quite.  You need to get this recipe and try it.  I was able to snag Kewpie mayo at my local Wegmans, but will have to try the work-around (extra egg yolk and sugar) when the wife is around since she is MSG sensitive.

Mississippi Short Ribs Sous Vide

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The Mississippi Roast recipe is an internet sensation and a great way to add flavor and tenderness to a tough piece of meat. It’s simply made by throwing a chuck roast into a crockpot with one package each of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing and Au Jus Gravy Mix with some butter, pepperoncini and water and cooking for 6-8 hours. But we can’t do anything simply, can we? We need to complicate everything and take the road less traveled.

First, I don’t use salad dressing or gravy mixes. The top two ingredients in Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing are salt and MSG. The top ingredient in McCormick Au Jus Mix is salt. No wonder Mississippi Roast tastes good: gobs of salt and glutamic acid. It’s an Umami Express. But I prefer to control my ingredients and minimize salt. In addition, my better-half is sensitive to MSG; so homemade buttermilk ranch dressing is on the prep list. You can, of course, substitute store-bought (shutter) ranch dressing for the homemade.


I was planning on making the dressing from homemade mayonnaise.  That plan did not work out too well.  I’m not sure why, but it would not emulsify.  As a fall back, I used Hellman’s.

As far as the Au Jus mix, I don’t see the point. The meat has its own jus and we don’t need the added salt.

Okay, I admit I am a culinary snob, I don’t do “crockpot.” My slow cooker of choice is my Anova Precision Cooker (sous vide). Unlike the crockpot, with sous vide I can precisely control the doneness and texture of the meat. It’s all a matter of time and temperature. Variations are endless and predictable.

I have done a Mississippi Roast using this method with great results. Unfortunately, I lost my recipe to an iPad meltdown before I could post it. I thought I would start over and, as a twist, give it a try with Short Ribs. Short-ribs are another cut of meat that benefits from low, slow cooking and has a rich beefy taste.  The recipe calls for bone-in Short Ribs.  I actually used boneless since that is what was available.

 I was looking for a texture somewhere between a steak and the fascicles falling apart. I went with 165 F. / 74 C. for 24 hours.   The texture and doneness were perfect.  The meat was tender and flavorful without being stringy.


I am not sure if it adds much, but I did marinate the ribs in the ranch dressing and pepperoncini for 8 hours before throwing it into the cooker. Buttermilk has natural enzymes that tenderize meat. I figured it couldn’t hurt to let the short-ribs get happy in the dressing before starting the cooking process.  If I were to change anything, it would be to pierce the pepperoncini before adding them to the bag.  Even after 24 hours of cooking, many of them were whole with the juices still captured inside instead of flavoring the meat.

I have also been experimenting with molecular gastronomy, so for plating I topped it with some pepperoncini air. This step is totally optional. I served it with my take on Spinach Salad ala Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and some Bourbon Cracked Potatoes (recipe coming later).

Ingredients:

  • 3 Bone-in Short-Ribs, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, English or Hybrid cut
  • 3/4 cups Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (see below)
  • 12 Pepperoncini
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbps Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Place the short ribs in vacuum bag(s) leaving room between ribs with 1/4 cup of ranch dressing and 4 pepperoncini per rib. Vacuum seal each bag.
  2. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours.
  3. Preheat water bath to 165F/74C
  4. Place short ribs into the water bath and cook for 24 hrs.
  5. Remove bags from the water bag, remove ribs from the bags and pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  6. In a skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sear short ribs on all sides.
  7. Serve on smear of Ranch Dressing. Top with Pepperoncini air.

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Pepperoncini Air

  • 20 grams Pepperoncini
  • 25 grams juice from Pepperoncini
  • 100 grams water
  • 1 gram Soy Lecithin

Beef and Spinach Börek

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There are plenty of recipes for beef börek and plenty for spinach börek, but not so much for beef and spinach borek. So that is the recipe du jour. Okay, let’s backtrack a little. What in the world is a börek?

According to the fount of all knowledge and wisdom, Wikipedia, “Börek … is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo (or yufka). … It was most probably invented in what is now Modern Turkey.” Yes, börek is Turkish, but it has spread. There is Serbian börek and Bulkan börek. There are African and Israeli variations. There are börek, bureks and briks. They are made as pies, spirals, cigar shaped cylinders, triangular or crescent bit size pieces and tarts. What is their essence? A thin flaky crust and some filling. I can work with that!

Back to beef böreks and spinach böreks, my recipe is the best of both worlds; a beef and spinach börek with authentic Mediterranean spices. I used non-fat Feta which is common in spinach böreks, but not beef variations. I also added non-fat Greek yogurt to the egg wash instead of the milk which is more common in beef böreks. I used fresh spinach, but you could use its frozen cousin, thaw it and squeeze out all the liquid.

I developed my own blend of Turkish spices for this recipe and have added the recipe below. For this one, I chose the spiral form since it looks cooler. Doing a simple pie would be easier, but the spiral was much more elegant with little extra effort.

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With endless varieties, you can play with this recipe for many delicious meals to come. I served it with a side salad for a simple, delicious and healthy meal.

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups fresh Spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup Non-fat Feta Cheese, crumbled
3 tsp. Turkish Spice Blend (see below)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
10 sheets of Phyllo dough
Poppy Seeds

Directions:
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of Olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and brown until thoroughly cooked.
3) Remove ground beef to a large mixing bowl leaving and liquid in the skillet.
4) Add onions to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
5) Add garlic to skillet and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
6) Strain onions and garlic an add to the mixing bowl with the ground beef.
7) Add the spinach, feta cheese, Turkish spice blend, salt and pepper to the beef mixture and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
8) In a separate mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of Olive oil, the Greek yogurt, eggs and cumin. Whisk until smooth.
9) On a clean dry surface, lay out one layer of phyllo. Brush lightly with the yogurt-egg mixture, top with another layer of phyllo and brush it with the yogurt-egg mixture, as well.
10) Use 1 cup of the ground beef mixture and spread along the long edge of the phyllo to within one inch of each side.
11) Fold the sides over the filling and roll the phyllo into a long cylinder. Roll the cylinder into a spiral and place on a lightly greased sheet pan. Repeat until the ground beef mixture is gone. It should make 5 spirals.
12) Brush the tops of each spiral with the yogurt-egg mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
13) Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Turkish Spice Blend:

Ingredients:
1 tsp. Whole Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp. Whole Coriander Seeds
2 inch Cinnamon Stick
1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
1/2 tsp. Whole Allspice
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Directions:
1) In a hot, dry sauce pan, toast all spices except for the nutmeg until fragrant and the cumin is just starting to brown.
2) Place toasted spices into a mortar and pestle.
3) Grate nutmeg into the spice mix.
4) Grind the spices into a fine powder.