Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welsh Rarebit burgers

Gotta love Rachael Ray.  These are huge, insanely messy burgers.  I mean, they're covered in a cheese sauce for crying out loud!  And they're delicious, of course.  I love the unusual ingredients, like Pumpernickel and watercress.  Welsh Rarebit (or Welsh Rabbit) is a British dish that is basically a cheesy sauce served over toast.  

Whenever I cook Rachael Ray recipes, I keep an eye out for opportunities where I can tweak amounts of ingredients or portion sizes so that the meal is a little more reasonable for me.

Case in point: For the cheese sauce, she wants you to use a pound of cheese.  To me, that just seemed excessive.  I probably used about 1/2 to 2/3 of the cheese and I thought it still tasted great.  Even with less cheese, it made so much that we got to use the leftovers as fondue the next night, dipping in chunks of leftover pumpernickel bread and chopped apples.  You could also just make half the cheese sauce recipe, but who doesn't love an excuse to have fondue?

Another part I adjusted was the size of the burgers, but that was only necessary because of the bread we bought.  At our store the choices were either gluten-free pumpernickel or regular rye.  We went with the rye, but it was a rather squatty loaf, so I cut the hamburger patties in half to make them fit.  If you can only find short bread like us, you can figure out some way to make it work for you.   Joe used a whole hamburger patty, but cut it in half and served it open-face on two slices of bread, piling the toppings on the side like a salad.  I just had half a patty between two slices of bread.  It's still really filling considering you have a cheese sauce and bacon on it too (the one pictured above is only half a patty, by the way).  But you could also make two full sandwiches and just place half a patty on each, whatever works for you and your appetite.

Welsh Rarebit Burgers
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray - August 2008
serves 4 (more than 4 for us, since we aren't big eaters.  Just don't assemble the burgers you aren't going to eat and heat them up the next day in the mircowave.  Use the extra cheese sauce for fondue, if you like, with chunks of extra pumpernickel bread for dipping)

8 slices bacon
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry or prepared mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used half a teaspoon because I didn't want it to be spicy)
3/4 to 1 cup stout, such as Guinness
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese (we used sharp, and about 1/2 to 2/3 that amount)
8 slices pumpernickel bread
1 small bunch watercress, chopped
4 thick slices beefsteak tomato (or just some slices of whatever tomatoes you have)
Salt and Vinegar potato chips, for serving (I think these are gross, so I bought other chips for me)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  

She wants you to cook the bacon on a broiler pan until crisp, about 15 minutes.  We don't own a broiler pan, so we just cooked them on a regular pan the oven (not as healthy of course).  Basically, just cook the bacon however you like it.  

Preheat the broiler.

In a bowl, gently combine the beef, shallots and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into four patties.  Dent the center with your thumb so they don't puff up while cooking.   

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat (if using fattier meat, like 15-20%, omit the oil entirely).  Cook the patties until they are as done as you like them (She suggested three minutes on each side for medium rare.  We like them more well done then that so we cooked them longer).

In a large saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, cook until light brown, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce.  Whisk in the stout, cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.   Lower the heat a bit, and add the cheese in handfuls, stirring until smooth.  

Lay the slices of pumpernickel on a baking sheet and toast in the oven on both sides.  Pour a little cheese sauce onto each toast, broil a couple of minutes until the cheese bubbles.

Assemble the burgers: Place the four patties onto four cheesy slices.  Pile some watercress on top, followed by the bacon and the tomato.  Top each with another slice of bread, cheesy side down.  Serve with potato chips and lots of napkins.  

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