Monday, March 26, 2012

Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers

Let's face it: Ground chicken is not one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. It's a lot mushier than ground beef making it hard to work with, and you have to add TONS of spices to give it any flavor. I bought a pound (used half) of it a few weeks ago in an attempt to eat healthier and was disappointed. The leftover half went into the freezer and was promptly forgotten about until this morning when I rummaged through to take inventory.

In my head I wondered "what the heck am I going to make with this?!" There wasn't an option to throw it away because throwing away food is throwing away my hard-earned money! So, I turned to the internet and found a Rachel Ray recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers. I liked the idea of Swiss cheese and ham on a burger, and it seemed like a great way to use up some of my mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. I made a few obvious tweaks such as swapping ham for the Canadian bacon and omitting the oil, shallots, and paprika.

These burgers turned out moist, juicy and flavorful! The dijonnaise sauce is what really ties it together. The ham is sweet, the cheese salty, tangy and creamy, and the ground chicken really soaked up the flavor of the steak seasoning and poultry herbs. If I was a skeptic about ground chicken before, now I'm an advocate!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burgers

Serves 2

For the burgers:
  • 1/2 lb ground chicken breast (99% fat free)
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (I like Lighthouse's freeze-dried variety from Target)
  • 1 tablespoon McCormick Monterey Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 thin slices of deli ham (black forest or honey-maple variety)
  • 4 slices mild Swiss cheese
  • 2 hamburger buns (or bread of choice. I used onion rolls!)
  • Shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, or sliced red onion (optional)
For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 drop hot pepper sauce
  • ground pepper (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)

1. Make the sauce ahead of time by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and stirring. Refridgerate until ready to serve.

2. In a bowl combine the dijon mustard and ground chicken. Caution, it will be sticky! Next add the montreal steak seasoning, poutry herbs, and pepper. Portion the mixture into two patties, 4 ounces each and chill for at least 1 hour.

3. Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the ham slices and cook until slightly crispy on the edges, flipping once. Meanwhile, preheat your oven on the broil setting to toast the buns and melt the cheese later.

4. Remove the ham and set aside. In the same pan spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Add the chicken burgers and cook until juices run clean, about 4 minutes each side.

5. Remove the pan from heat and top each burger with two slices of grilled ham, and top with two slices Swiss cheese. Pop the whole pan in the oven (if possible) or transfer into a baking dish and broil for 2-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

6. Slice open and toast the buns under the broiler as well.

7. Remove everything from the oven, spread hal the dijonnaise mixture on the top and bottom of each bun. Place lettuce or other veggies on the bottom of each bun, then top with a burger.

8. Enjoy!

Questions? Comment below!


Shauna E!

Quick and Dirty Q & A!

Q. I can't find ground chicken anywhere! What can I use instead?

A. Ground chicken is not always as common in grocery stores as other ground meats. My recommendation here would be to use ground turkey breast instead. I would avoid using ground beef as the flavor changes too dramatically. Although if you do want to use ground beef, you could always omit the poultry spice, add pickles and mustard and make yourself a Cuban burger instead!

If you want to stay true and use chicken, you could always swap the ground chicken for plain chicken breasts. Marinade them the same way adding a teaspoon of olive oil to help stick.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Technique of the Week: Sensational Stove-Top Popcorn

One of my very first jobs as a teenager was working in a concession stand at a movie theatre. We sold candy, hot dogs, nachos, soda, and of course that staple of the cinema: popcorn. One of my favorite tasks on a shift was to man the massive popper, adding the kernels and salt to the oil, and flipping the popped kernels into the basket at just the right moment. To this day, I can still open a paper bag with just a slight flick of my wrist!

I love popcorn. I love the way it smells, and I love the way it tastes when tossed in a little butter and salt. Sure, there are countless microwave varieties out there. In my pantry alone we have kettle popcorn, “homestyle” popcorn, and movie-theatre butter popcorn. I even have a few bags of the 100-calorie varieties but to be honest I have to eat two or three bags to be satisfied. Microwave popcorn is good for a snack in a bind but to me it tastes artificially and often times has the texture and aftertaste of cardboard.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a recipe on Simply Recipes for stove-top popcorn. This is something I’ve always considered to be “too much work” or “too complicated” but really, it isn’t! All you need is a saucepan with a lid and some patience. After playing around with popcorn on the stove for a week or two, I’ve come up with this ratio below for popcorn for one. Feel free to double or triple as needed, making sure you use a larger saucepan/stockpot to account for the extra kernels. The trick is to swirl the pan so the kernels are constantly moving. Having your seasoning ready ahead of time will make the end result even tastier since the hot popcorn will stick better!

Swirl the kernels in your saucepan to coat aid in even popping

When you hear the popping begin to slow, remove from the heat.
My FAVORITE popcorn topping. This stuff is seriously addictive!
Make sure you let me know how you fare in the comments below!

Stove-Top Popcorn for One
(Makes about 4 cups)
You will need:
  • 1 quart saucepan with a lid
  • 2 teaspoons good quality oil such as canola, vegetable or olive oil*
  • 2 tablespoons dried corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1-gallon ziplock bag
  • 1-2 tablespoon melted butter or popcorn seasoning to taste (I like to use Kernel Season’s White Cheddar variety!)
(*olive oil works fine here, but the popcorn will have a slightly fruitier taste than you are probably used to. I normally use canola oil)
  1. Add butter and/or seasoning to the Ziploc bag. Set aside for later.
  2. On a stove-top over medium-high heat, add oil and salt to the saucepan. Add 1-2 kernels to the oil and swirl the pan with lid on until they pop.
  3. Add the remaining kernels and continue swirling the pan until the popping slows to 1-2 seconds per pop, making sure the lid is on but slightly vented. This will help distribute the steam better and will result in denser, moister popcorn!
  4. Add hot popcorn to the prepared Ziploc bag and shake until seasoning is distributed.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Questions? Comment below!
Shauna E!

Quick and Dirty Q & A
1) What are some other flavor combinations I can try instead of salt and butter?
  • I personally love my Kernel Season's White Cheddar flavoring. It's super salty which I love, and has a slightly tangy cheese taste.
  • You could make spicy popcorn by combining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and a tiny dash of cayenne. Simply add it to the butter in the bag, or skip the butter all together for a healthier treat.Another delicious combination would be a mixture of 1/2 tablespoon white sugar with a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Play around! You could try chopped fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese... really anything would work!
2) Why should I stove-top pop? The microwave is so easy!
  • Aside from the flavor being far fresher than the commercial microwave varieties, stove popping is a good deal more affordable. A 16 ounce bag of corn kernels costs around $2.50 and will make countless servings where as a box of 6 bags of the microwave junk will cost you anywhere from $4.00-$6.00.