NOW is it warm enough to grill where you live? I have my fingers crossed for you, but surely The Endless Winter of 2012-13 has got to be over for everyone now.
Hopefully. Because celebrating National Burger Month with snow on the ground? It just ain’t right.
We love our fancy burgers around here and have a few more to add to the menu this month. First up? Sliders topped with beer-glazed caramelized onions and brie.
By definition, miniature anythings are fancy. Add brie? TOTALLY Food & Wine-worthy. But the real stars here are the caramelized onions. Right at the end of cooking, they’re simmered in beer until a nice, syrupy glaze forms. It’s not just an excuse to open a beer, but it is an excuse if you need one.
For the beer, go with an amber or brown ale. If you’re not a beer drinker, you can skip the glaze… but maybe you try it anyway!
Sliders with Beer-Glazed Caramelized Onions and Brie
Grilled beef sliders go fancy with craft brew-glazed caramelized onions, fruit preserves, and brie. (Amber or brown ale recommended.)
For the onions:
2 tsp olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion
1/2 cup beer (I used an amber ale)
For the sliders
6 slider buns
6 grilled slider patties (~2 1/2 oz precooked)
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Cut the onion pole-to-pole and then slice into 1/4-inch half-rounds.
Add all at once to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and let cook, stirring occasionally.
If the onions get too dry before completely browning, add a couple Tbsp water and reduce heat even more.
When the onions have browned to your liking, add the beer and let simmer until the beer reduces to a nice, syrupy glaze for the onions.
To build the sliders, spread preserves onto the buns and top with a burger patty, slices of brie (cut to fit the slider), and a spoon of the onions.
Hey, look. It’s another super easy way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. And it only involves a little math:
1 part barbecue sauce
1 part cranberry sauce
3. Watch your husband dip a tester sweet potato fry in it and complain about it being too cranberry-y.
4. Add another part barbecue sauce.
7. Get approval from the barbecue sauce snob in the house.
8. Spoon it over pulled pork sandwiches. Or turkey sandwiches! And use the rest as a dipper for sweet potato fries.
9. Eat too much.
10. Declare the entire house a carb-free, lean-protein-only zone ’til Christmas.
11. Forget and eat a brownie for dessert.
Here in southeast Texas, we don’t really get a ceremonial changing of seasons to signal that fall is (according to the calendar) here. We know by the crates full of pumpkins piled up outside the grocery stores, the first glorious bags of glorious grapefruit from the glorious Rio Grande Valley appear lined up next to them, and suburban front lawns are overtaken with a layer of pine needles and those gigantic inflatable Halloween decorations.
Who knew life felt incomplete without a 12-ft tall inflatable Halloween snow globe out front? (My neighbor puts up and decorates a “Halloween tree,” I think she earns bonus points for that out here. Probably more bonus points than I get for pushing that gigantic plastic car shopping cart at HEB.)
There are pretty much no other signs of fall at this point, certainly not the thermostat of my black interior/black exterior car that lives in a sunny driveway (which, by the way, could really use that interior detailing that comes with an oil change… in another 1047 miles) just two zip codes north of the Seventh Circle of Hell.
And while an endless supply of pumpkin and apple goodies (and grapefruit margaritas!) are great and glorious, next in line to start driving that “no really – fall is here!!” feeling home is the appearance of a particular sandwich at a local chain deli.
They call it a Turkey Cranwich. And for as excited as I get about seeing it back on the menu, it’s kind of a total mess of a sandwich. They always sloppily throw it together in that typical lopsided, assembly-line, lunch-rush fashion and put enough red onion on it (but always clumped together on one side of the sandwich) to cripple a vampire. (That’s a lesson you only have to learn once. [shudder])
But it oozes melty cheese and cream cheese (when they remember that I order it grilled, with cheese) and tangy cranberry chutney with every bite. It’s like having Thanksgiving leftovers in mid October, only without the 4 loads of after-dinner dirty dishes. And it makes me far happier than any sandwich not wrapped in money and Super Bowl tickets should.
To whip up the sandwich at home, I added brie, omitted the cream cheese and red onion, and slathered generous amounts of a quick & easy homemade cranberry-apricot chutney (a sort of mash-up of thesetwo recipes). No lopsided, assembly-line, lunch rush mess here! And bonus – the homemade cranberry-apricot chutney doesn’t cost nearly as much as the tiny jar from that shiny, gourmet kitchen store.
And PS. It goes great served with a bottle of Riesling, just in case you were at a loss for what “vegetable” side to serve with your fancy sandwich
Turkey & Brie Cranwich
Homemade cranberry-apricot chutney is the star of this turkey and brie panini.
For the cranberry apricot chutney:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 spicy red pepper, seeded and chopped (optional; I used a red serrano)
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp worcestershire
3 Tbsp brown sugar (more if desired)
Pinch of ground ginger
12 oz bag of cranberries
12-15 dried apricot rounds, chopped
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
For the sandwich:
Slices of brie from a small wheel
Handful of salad greens
To make the chutney, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
Add onion and pepper (if using), and cook ~3 minutes, until the onions have softened.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
Add the remaining chutney ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, let cook covered for ~10 minutes until the cranberries have softened and then remove the lid and cook until nearly all of the liquid has cooked away, about another 10-15 minutes.
Taste for sweetness and add another tablespoon or 2 of sugar, if you think it needs it (I was looking for just enough sweetness to take the edge off the cranberries).
Let cool and then transfer to a jar or bowl and keep in the refrigerator (will last a good 2 weeks).
To assemble the sandwiches, heat your panini maker or grill pan to high.
Lightly brush the outside of the bread slices with olive oil and the inside with a generous smear of chutney.
Pile turkey, brie, and salad greens on top and grill until golden brown.
I adore canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Adore them. They’re smokey and spicy and are one of those pantry staples that can make any dish better, from taquitos (ahem, flautas) to Eggs Benedict.
Most recipes usually call for 1-2 peppers, maybe a little sauce and then… what do you do with the extras? Wrap it in plastic wrap, stick it in the door of the fridge, and forget about it until things get all gross?
A super handy tip shared by reader Bianca last year helped solve the can-of-leftover-chipotles dilemma. I empty the can of chipotles into the mini-chopper, give it a whirl until mostly uniform, and then freeze the mixture in 2 Tbsp portions. The chipotle cubes store easily in a ziptop bag and I pull one out when ever a recipe calls for 1-2 peppers.