Spring picnic bites: Burgers, potato salad
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Whip up an adventurous spring feast with Ben Ford's innovative take on perennial picnic favorites.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsps red wine vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 heaping tbsp sweet pickle relish
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
Stir everything together in a bowl. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients that you want to. Cover and refrigerate until the feast.
- 4 pounds ground beef
- 16 slices cheddar or jack cheese
- 8 1/4-inch tomato slices from big red tomatoes
- 8 big iceberg lettuce leaves
- 32 dill pickle chips
- 2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 quality sesame seed hamburger buns
- 1/4 pounds butter, melted, for brushing on the buns
Separate the meat into 4-ounce portions and roll each portion into a ball, like cookie dough. Gently pat the balls into patties 1/4 inch thick; you want to flatten the patties without beating up the meat. Stack the patties on large baking sheets. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it's time to grill. Fire up a charcoal grill following the instructions in Cooking with Charcoal (page 8), or fire up a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot. While the grill heats, get all your burger fixings ready: cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, avocados, and sauce. Set them up on a station near your grill along with bowls of salt and pepper. Brush the cut sides of the buns lightly with butter. Put the buns cut side down on the grill to toast them lightly. Transfer the toasted buns to a big roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan. Tent with foil to keep the buns warm while you grill the patties. (You could also toast the buns in the spaces between the patties while you grill the patties.) Place the burger patties on the grill, seasoning them lightly on both sides with salt and pepper as you go. Cook the patties for 2 minutes. Turn the patties and put a slice of cheese on each one. Close the grill if it has a lid, and cook the patties for another 2 minutes until they're done. To dress the burgers, coat the toasted sides of the buns with sauce. Layer the burger like this: bottom bun, 1 lettuce leaf, 4 pickle chips, 2 patties, 1 tomato slice, and enough slices to equal one-quarter of an avocado. Spoon a little more sauce over the avocado and close the burger. Wrap the burger in paper, if you have it. Stack the burgers on a platter, no higher than two burgers, and put them out on the buffet for the crowds to dig in.
8 to 10 servings
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsps white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more for the boiling water and to taste
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 6 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced on the bias
- 1/4 cup large shards semi-dry domestic sheep’s milk cheese or a medium-aged pecorino
- 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes or other small, thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 pound fresh green beans, yellow wax beans, or a mix
- Edible flowers, for garnish (optional)
Whisk the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a medium bowl. Stir in the parsley, scallions and cheese.Put the potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Add 1 tablespoon salt per quart water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the potatoes until they're tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly. While the potatoes are still warm, slice them ¼ inch thick. Put the slices in a large bowl. While the potatoes are cooking, snip the ends off the beans. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Bring another pot of water to a boil and salt it the same way you did for the potatoes. Add the beans and blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes, until they are just tender but still have some snap to them. Remove the beans and plunge them into the ice water to cool. If you are using different types of beans, blanch them separately as cooking times will vary. Use a strainer to remove the beans from the water so you can reuse the water. Drain the beans and add to the potatoes. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat the beans and potatoes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if you want. If you like, garnish with edible flowers.