Saturday, July 5, 2008

Viva la France! Viva la America!

It's easy to disdain the French. Too easy, really.
But let's face it, if it weren't for those cheese-eating surrender monkeys we'd still have an old British woman on our cash. Don't think so? Keep in mind that long after the sun set on the British empire, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, and Northern Ireland continue to pay homage to Her Majesty. So it's not entirely unreasonable to think we'd be in the same boat, 'lo these 232 years later.
Of course, if it weren't for us, German might be the national language of France.
So let's just say we've done well by each other.
Sure, the French have a well-deserved reputation of treating American tourists with complete disdain. But as a Floridian and long-time resident of Washington, D.C., I've lived among tourists long enough to appreciate where the French are coming from.
Besides, we treat the French just as warmly.
In honor of our rich, if complicated, histories, I decided to pay tribute to our French cousins on Independence Day. The frogs -- God bless them -- love to put fried eggs on top of all sorts of dishes: the Croque Madame (ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top), fried eggplant with a fried egg on top, and a fried egg atop greens and lardons all come to mind.
In this spirit, I anointed the most American of dishes with a fried egg: the bacon cheeseburger. As a last-minute touch, I added jalapeno mayonnaise.
Rich? Yup.
Delicious? Hell yah.
Jour de l'indépendance heureux!

The Independence Burger

1 lb. ground beef (Buy an 80/20 mixture of lean to fat. With burgers, you want a good bit of fat to hold the meat together and lend to that deliciously juicy texture. Yah, it's bad for you. But that's why you eat them on rare occasions.)
0.5 lb. of sharp white cheddar cheese
4 strips of thick cut or country bacon (I bought a pack of black pepper country bacon, but buy what you like.)
4 onion buns
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of mayonnaise
3 jalapenos, roasted
2 tbs. of garlic powder (You can also use a three cloves of fresh garlic. However, I threw the mayo together at the last minute, so I decided to take the easy road and use garlic powder. If you use fresh garlic, make sure you mince it very finely.)
2 tbs. cumin
2 tsp. black pepper

Throw the mayonnaise together before you do anything else. To get started, roast the peppers in the oven: toss them in an oven-safe pan, coat with olive oil and stick them under the broiler for 10 minutes. They should come out a bit blackened. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The heat will cause the peppers to steam, loosening the skin. After about 20 minutes, the peppers should be cool enough to handle. Peel the skin off, cut in half and remove most of the seeds. Dice the jalapenos finely and combine with the mayo, garlic powder, cumin and black pepper. Stir and stick in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
For the burgers, light the grill and divide the pound of ground beef into four patties. Add salt and pepper to both sides and set aside. Fry the four strips of bacon and set aside.

Oil the grates of the grill and put the burgers on. Like steak, you want to cook the first side of the burger a little longer than the second. Also, use the grill like an oven by cooking with the lid closed. Cook the first side of the burgers for about 7 minutes (for medium rare). Open the lid, flip the burgers and cook for another three minutes. Open the lid again, toss the buns on to toast and add the bacon and then cheese atop the burgers, cooking for another two minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove the burgers and buns.

In a preheated pan (preferably the pan you cooked the bacon in) fry the four eggs over easy, being careful not to break or over-cook the yolks. (Note to those who don't cook by The Force: you know the eggs are ready to turn over in the pan when they are solid white on the first side. Flip them over for ten seconds, and remove from the pan for delicious, runny yolks that would make your local health department scream.)

When the eggs are cooked, build the burger by slathering the jalapeno mayo on the buns and stick the eggs on top of the burgers. Although I cut the burger open for the photo, leave yours whole. The best part about this burger is biting into it and having that warm, rich yellow yolk run down your chin as your mouth fills with beef, bacon and cheese.
I paired the sandwich with a Castelain, a delicious French blonde ale from Brasserie Castelain à Bénifontaine. However, the burger would also pair well with any American ale or India pale ale, or a big red wine, like a cabernet sauvignon or malbec.


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