In our back yard we have a garden. It’s not huge; it’s not glorious. Its contents are simple and familiar–tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, cabbage (because after reading the simple ingredient list on the jar, my daughter wants me to make sauerkraut), and a few stalks of sweet corn (because that same little girl wanted to try growing corn). After starting my tomatoes and peppers in April, I found more packets of seeds for 9 cents. So with nothing to lose and something to gain from something we hadn’t tried yet, I planted Kirby cucumbers and dill with that fascinating five-year-old girl of mine. Perhaps I’d be able to grow enough to try my grandma’s Best in the World pickle recipe.
A couple of weeks ago I found several cucumbers ready for the picking. There’s something about fresh produce from the garden–especially those first pieces of produce from my garden–that turns me into something akin to a little kid on Christmas. I want to do something with them now. So my grandma’s recipe wasn’t going to be happening quite yet. (The 90-degree weather with 110% humidity also didn’t help–there was no way I was going to boil anything in the house for any period of time.) After doing a little internet research, I found a recipe for refrigerator pickles from Cookography and I liked its simplicity. The red pepper intrigued me a bit, too. The hardest part was waiting six days to try them (I did taste-test them after three days for quality assurance purposes). The results were worth the wait: they’re crunchy, refreshing, and they have a good kick of heat at the end. You can leave the red pepper out, if you’re not into the zesty pickle thing.
So, with a jar of zesty pickles in hand, what better accompaniment for those crunchy cucumber coins than a burger? (The America’s Test Kitchen Blogger “Dish It Your Way” Burger Challenge provided incentive, too!) I’ll admit that I get charmed by descriptions of wonderful-sounding gourmet burgers loaded with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, battered onions, and other such saliva-inducing ingredients at restaurants. But have you ever tried to eat one of those things? You could pick up the whole burger, but everything falls out onto your lap. You try to cut the burger in half to make it manageable–and everything falls off onto your plate. Unless I’m dining with the Queen of England, I really think a fork should not come within striking distance of a burger. So while I always dream of loading my burgers with goodness, I had zesty pickles to showcase and thirty minutes until supper time (and I had just done laundry and wasn’t eager to do it again in short order). I needed to keep it simple without short-changing the creativity.
In an ideal world I would have taken pictures of the process, but since I live in the real world with a real family, just getting supper done is ideal. So, folks, use your imagination here!
With aforementioned five-year-old and jar of pickles at my side, I set to work. I divided two pounds of ground chuck into 12 almost evenly-sized patties. Then I cut two pieces of string cheese into thirds and then cut those in half horizontally (you can also use whatever chunk cheese slices you happen to have or prefer). On six of the patties my trusty sidekick placed one large (or two small) pickle slice(s) and two pieces of cheese. We then added ketchup and mustard, topped it with another meat patty and pressed the sides to seal. After making sure the seams were tight I gave each patty a dusting of salt, pepper, and garlic powder and placed them on the oiled grates of our gas grill over medium heat. It took about 15 minutes to cook them–I think (again, real world), flipping once after 7 minutes or so. I was smart enough to throw some frozen fries on a foil-lined baking sheet and put that on the warming rack on the grill about 20 minutes before ideal eating time, so when the burgers were ready, we were all set. I did manage to take a picture of the final product, though.
Can you see that grin in the corner of the picture? She was so happy with the Inside-out Burgers! I was happy because I didn’t have toppings falling in my lap. Next time I might add some fried onions in the middle. Or bacon. Homemade sauerkraut? 😉 Part of the fun is seeing what you can sneak in the middle. It’s not about adding as much as you can; it’s about adding what you like and making it your own. It’s about keeping it real, having fun, and making it delicious.