Thursday, August 13, 2009

Burgers with Sourdough Rosemary Flatbread and Mashed Potatoes

I'm sure all twenty of you (my readers) are just dying to know what happened to that loaf of sourdough that didn't rise. I made flatbread out of it, that's what. First, I put it in the fridge overnight. Nothing happened. Then I let it sit out and warm up for a couple of hours. Nothing happened. My starter is apparently not mighty enough to make it rise without some additional yeasties. At least it doesn't smell like white vinegar any more (I started feeding it more flour at each feeding and the odor straightened out in about three days to a pleasant sourdough scent). In fact, I don't think it rose at all. Thus, I "punched it down" and then chopped up all of the rosemary on a long, fresh sprig very, very finely. Then I took some coarse sea salt and kneaded the salt and rosemary into the dough, working it for about five minutes until everything was very evenly distributed. Next, I made it into little flatbreads and put them on the grittle.
sea salt and rosemary sourdough flatbreads on the grittleHow'd they taste? Well... very sour. The sourdough flavor was almost overwhelming, although the salt balanced it and the rosemary kind of reigned things in and made it pleasant enough to where I put down three of them immediately before I remembered that I was only making nine: one to try and eight for "buns" for my burgers later. Crap. I'm glad I added the salt and rosemary because otherwise, these would have been hard to eat on their own (but good for making sandwiches or having with hummus).

Since I decided to have them with burgers (which I cheated and bought pre-formed because they were on sale -- otherwise they would have been better because they would have had chopped garlic, mushrooms, and rosemary in them) and mashed potatoes, I started to work on those. The burgers only needed a little dressing up since they were pre-made. First, I splashed them with some red wine vinegar and let it soak in a little, and then I sprinkled on seasoned salt and dried, ground rosemary leaves. I pressed the seasoning into the meat lightly and set them aside while I cleaned up the potatoes, which I left most of the peels on, and started them in some salted water: cold and turned to boil soon. Here's the trick to making awesome mashed potatoes that essentially no one knows....

If you want mashed potatoes, then you know you're going to be adding some kind of milk/cream and butter to them eventually. Wouldn't it be cool if you could add flavor? My mom boils onions and garlic in with the potatoes and then mashes them in. That's great except a large part of the flavor goes out with the water. The trick is to chop up those ingredients (here it was three cloves of garlic, two long sprigs of fresh rosemary, and about a quarter of an onion) and cook them in the milk and butter.
rosemary leaves and chopped garlic for delicious mashed potatoes I put about three tablespoons of butter into a small saucepan, melted it, and sauteed the onions in it for about five minutes. Then I added the garlic and rosemary and continued cooking it for another minute or two before dropping the heat. Once the pan was sizzling very little, I added about 2/3 of a cup of milk (for my 7 medium-sized Idaho potatoes) and a little salt. I let that warm slowly until scalding and then just let it simmer, like I was making "tea" out of the ingredients in the milk. When the potatoes were fork-tender, I drained them and poured the milk mixture into the potatoes with more salt and a little black pepper. When I mashed them and found them a little dry (which is what I had hoped, going intentionally a little short on the milk), I mixed in two heaping dollops of plain, whole milk yogurt and stirred everything until it was (relatively) smooth and definitely well-mixed. Those were very nice mashed potatoes with just a touch of rosemary and garlic.

While the potatoes were boiling away and the milk mixture was simmering, I put the burgers in a very hot skillet (we don't currently have a grill or I would have grilled them) and seasoned the side I didn't season yet. After long enough (maybe five minutes), I flipped them and let them cook on the other side until the juices were coming out clear, maybe another five minutes. Then I put them on a piece of flatbread (since I couldn't make "buns" out of the breads because I ate too many earlier) with the mashed potatoes. Normally I would have dressed them up with some chopped onion and some nice tomatoes fresh from the garden, but I've had enough of tomatoes for a few days and didn't do it. That's some organic ketchup and super-awesome mustard on there, though. Yum!
bunless burger with flatbread and mashed potatoesTomorrow, I'll tell you what to do with those leftover mashed potatoes (if you have any) -- one of my all-time favorite secret recipes that is glorious beyond glorious. It's good enough, in fact, to make sure that you make extra potatoes just to have extras (it works best if you use leftover mashed potatoes, which usually suck, because they have less water content after they sit in a refrigerator for a day or two).

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