Beef, nobody loves you more than I do. You know that, right?
Steak? The bloodier the better. Brazilian churrascaria? Bring on the filet and picanha. Midnight taco runs?
Carne asada, tripa, and lengua, por favor. Korean BBQ? Ten servings for two people, too easy. Burgers? #1 animal-style with grilled onions, well-done fries, and a strawberry milkshake.
We’ve had some great times, right?
But… Beef, I think we should take a temporary break. I just want to explore my other options. See what else is out there! It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve developed new interests, new hobbies – I think I’ve changed. I hope we can still be friends.
Someone else? No, there isn’t someone else, don’t be ridiculous…
Who? That? Well, this is awkward.
That’s just Deep-fried goat cheese. Um. Yeah.
All on a glorious pretzel bun. With some buddies, Grilled Eggplant and Spicy Tomato Relish.
We’re just friends, I swear.
I may have introduced him to my friends already. My roommate, Sarah, even made welcoming sangria and Charlotte made potato salad. They love him.
It’s nothing personal, Beef. Let’s keep in touch!
Grilled Eggplant, Goat Cheese, and Sun-dried Tomato Burger
Adapted from Burgers by Paul Gayler
12 oz goat cheese log
3 tablespoons flour
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten for egg wash
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
4 thick slices eggplant
olive oil for brushing
4 plain or sourdough burger buns (I bought pretzel buns from Trader Joe’s – yum)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup spicy tomato relish (see below for recipe)
Divide the goat cheese log into four equal parts – mold into patty shapes carefully so the cheese doesn’t crumble apart. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow, wide dish. Coat cheese in the following order: dip into flour and cover both sides. Dip into egg wash and then into the panko crumbs. Press panko crumbs into goat cheese firmly. Dip into egg wash a second time and again into the panko. It is important to double coat to prevent the cheese from oozing into the fryer oil. Chill cheese patties in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat to 350 degrees F.
Heat a cast iron pan grill until very hot, brush eggplant slices with olive oil, and grill them until cooked to a golden color, about 3 minutes on each side. (I cheated and used my roommate’s panini press.)
Fry the goat cheese burgers for 3-4 minutes until golden, then drain well on paper towels. Toast the burger buns on both sides.
Toss the arugula with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper.
Assemble burgers by topping the base with the eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese burger, tomato relish, and arugula. Serve with leftover relish.
Spicy Tomato Garlic Relish
(I created my own variation of the cooked tomato relish recipe in the book by throwing in spicy red chile pepper flakes, increasing the amount of garlic three-fold, and using agave syrup instead of brown sugar – I think the bit of heat was good in cutting through the richness of the goat cheese)
1 tablespoon oil (olive, canola, or veggie all work fine)
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 large ripe but firm plum tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
salt and fresh ground pepper
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and red chile pepper flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes until garlic is soft. Be careful not to burn the garlic! Add sugar, agave syrup, and vinegar and stir in until sugar is dissolved.
Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato ketchup to the pan and reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened to a relish consistency. Remove and allow to cool. Salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add more red chile pepper flakes if you want to up the heat.
Kept well-covered, this relish will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. But who are we kidding, this relish is not going to last that long, trust me. Next time, I’d double the relish recipe so there’s enough to scoop up with chips and fries alongside the burgers.