Wednesday, July 07, 2004

With summertime and the chance to be outdoors sweating, throwing off CO2 to attract mosquitoes, lounging with a choice import brew or a domestic micro, thoughts of eating straight off the grill burgers and other meats waft through the air. Having taste buds ravaged by 3 alarm chili, thermonuclear heated pizzas, and flotillas of diner breakfasts it's now necessary that anything eaten for pleasure purposes, rather than reasons of sustenance, be injected with accoutrements of flavor. Foods that my elders ate to my astonishment when I was a tyke are in order! Pepper, garlic, onions...they are all honored guests. So, put away that breathalyzer. The car keys are sequestered safely. The front door has been locked. The grill's been packed with briquets and it's been lit. Let 40 minutes of time turn the little black pillows to white ash.
You've already hit the grocery store and picked up the following:
Potato Salad Ingredients
5 lbs of California White Potatoes (Russet or Golden will also do)
1 large Vidalia onion
1 large Red onion
Maldon salt or any coarse French sea salt
1 bottle of five-colored peppercorns
1 bottle of wine vinegar
1 bottle of Olive Oil
(Hey! Any self respecting person not living in an efficiency would already have AT LEAST the last 4 items permanently stocked in their kitchen)

Hamburger Ingredients
2 lbs of a 1/3 beef, 1/3 veal, 1/3 pork ground meat concoction (usually described as Meatloaf Mix)
1 bottle balsamic vinegar (also should be part of your permanent stock)
Salt & peppercorns from above
1 bottle of sage (preferably Dalmatian sage)
1 bottle of tabasco sauce
Fresh thick-skinned Italian bread or Italian rolls (None of that squishy potato hamburger ilk)
1 large Vidalia onion (yes, another one)

This outdoors meal (no, it cannot be eaten or prepared in the house, unless you enjoy crying, and as Wanda Sykes says about frying bacon, this meal is a long-term commitment because the smell would stay in the house for an extended period of time)is a true test of one's friendships. Your hands and your mouth will be registering high on the odoriforous scale. Invite only your compadres who you feel comfortable with sharing smells. If you suspect any of them to be incapable of eating this food, do not invite them for this meal...or even for the next couple of days. While you may take great pleasure in the eating, those not partaking will be pulling their shirts over their noses.

Amalgamating the ingredients starts with the potato salad.
Clean (do not peel unless you really can't stand the potato skins) and cut the potatoes into medium size pieces, which you then throw into a boiling and salted pot of water. 15 minutes will do the trick.
Meanwhile, cut up the Vidalia and the red onions into the size you're most comfortable with eating. I prefer rings as it gives you a definite onion taste when you bite into them. Place the cut up onion into a large bowl.
Throw in 2-3 teaspoons of the Maldon or other sea salt.
Using a grinder or a mortar & pestle, grind up enough of the peppercorns to cover the onions in a black coat.
Splash in 1/4 cup of wine vinegar. Slosh the mixture around.
Pour in 1/3 - 1/2 cup of olive oil, depending on your love of bread dipping.
After the taters have boiled around for 15 minutes, drain them, gently slide them back into the pot, cover with cold water for 5 minutes, drain them again, and finally cut them into bite size pieces, choosing the shape you're most comfortable with, rounds or chunks.
Put the cut up potatoes in the bowl and GENTLY turn them through the onion/vinegar/oil sauce. The potatoes should be handled minimally to minimize breakage of shape. Use as large spoons as possible, short of your snow shovel.
You're done! Put the bowl aside, or in the fridge. This salad actually tastes better after a day sitting in its "stew", well...if you reallay love onions and pepper. You can throw in cut up garlic as well, if you're really ticked off at your next-door neighbour.

Burger Time
In a medium size mixing bowl,
Throw in all of the meat mixture
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of dry sage
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Vidalia & red onions
Minimum of 2 teaspoons of ground pepper; you can add as much as you dare
Wash your hands!
Using all 10 digits, mix all of the ingredients thoroughly
Form fat little patties. Shape them in your hands; when you cup your hands together loosely you should feel the meat mixture on both the top and the bottom hands. You don't want any skinny flat Mcburger; you're shooting for a Rubenesque meat shape.
Wash your hands!

Burn time
With the delicacy of a bomb de-fuser, gently place the burgers on the grill.
8-10 minutes on first side
5-7 minutes on second side
If you've carefully followed the "shaping" instructions, the burgers will plump up. Onion & pepper airs will circle your grill.
Since there's pork in the burgers, "rare" and "medium-rare" is not where you want to end up. "Well-done" is the safest, as long as you're not carring the surface of the meat.

Combo time
Beer should have chilled in a large ice-filled bucket.
Lay out your mustard, relish, & ketchup.
Lay out a small bowl with finely chopped onions.
Bread should be cut up in slabs.
Don't forget knves and forks. The burgers are best eaten without sticking them into a bun or between bread slices.
Potato salad takes center stage.

A handipack of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and Listerine along with warm washclothes can be handed out at the completion of the meal.

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