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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BLUEBERRY BURGERS


Oh "YUCKO" I hear you scream! Hang on! Not so fast...these are delicious!


This isn't an original idea. People have been adding fruits to ground beef in order to increase moisture, flavor and reduce fat and cholesterol for years. Burgers can be made in this manner from leaner cuts of beef without toughening up and tasting like a piece of sun-dried raccoon leather. That's great news to anyone interested in shaving calories and saturated fat from their diet.


I seem to recall setting out to make a lower fat burger that wasn't boring. Regardless of my motivation, the addition of fresh chopped blueberries in ground beef was so delicious that I've grilled many blueberry burgers. The taste is amazing--flavorful and juicy. This is actually becoming my "go to" burger recipe. An unsuspecting guest will never know what the secret ingredient is. The taste of blueberries doesn't come through. However, observant eaters will notice the dark bits of skin peppering the meat.

Yes, I coarsely chop the berries before mixing them with the ground beef. But it was much more attractive to the camera this way, trust me.

School cafeterias in well over a dozen states switched in the late 90's from traditional beef burgers to those containing the addition of dried prunes, tart cherries or blueberries. The motivation to add fruit to burgers springs from more than one factor. Adding berries to grilled beef is thought by some to reduce the carcinogens believed to form during cooking. Fruit can also add moisture to leaner, healthier cuts of meat. The resulting burger produces less fat without a dry, tough texture. There is also the theory that these recipes were born out the creative marketing minds hired by the blueberry and cherry industries. Finding new ways to sell more of their fruit ensured more food for their own family's tables.

I can't give specific ratios of fruit to beef. Too much chopped fruit will make the burgers difficult to handle and result in patties that fall apart on the grill. I suggest adding just a handful of coarsely chopped blueberries to your first batch (try one small tester burger) and gaugeing ratios by the result. I added chopped blueberries once to turkey burgers and found the result to be very tasty, but, somewhat Fear Factorish due to its ghastly, puce-grey color.

To some freshly ground beef, I add the coarsely chopped berries and mix gently. I form the patties, using a slightly firmer hand than normal. Hang on while I detour and jump up on the soapbox:


Over-handling ground beef usually results in burgers that are too compact and tough. If preparing "normal" beef burgers:

DON'T press the meat into one of those hamburger forms sold in stores or mash the beef together. UGH!

Don't over-mix seasonings into the beef. Combine lightly and simply form loose patties with your hands.

Don't press the cooking burgers flat with a spatula--spilling the juices into the fire or pan.

Okay, I'm off the box now.

The surplus juice the berries provide seem to counter this unwanted compact texture and your burgers should be formed well enough to hold together while cooking. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper just before cooking. Grill (medium-rare for us!) and top with whatever favorite accessories you desire. This produces one of the juiciest, most tender burgers you'll hope to have.

12 comments:

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Boggles my mind, but if you say so.....

wheresmymind said...

You sure you aren't drinkin' blueberry vodka while eating these? ;)

Lis said...

Well.. it makes sense. We like a lil worcestershire sauce in our burger mix.. does adding extra flavorings along with the blueberries matter? You promise we won't taste blueberry? Cuz I'm curious now and would like to try this.. maybe.. :P

Rachael said...

Dunno...kinda seems like a waste of blueberries to me...its not like I need to mask that taste ever...the dried plums I could do though...for the moisture factor and all...

mooncrazy said...

The pix just about gags me but it sounds crazy enough to work, you know, like the explanation for the electoral college.

Acme Instant Food said...

I think I lost people on this one. Do some Googling on the topic and you'll see that this combo has caught on long ago. You just have to taste it to believe it. Add a small amount of chopped berries to some ground beef and test it. It's an amazing burger.

Lis-- no you don't actually taste blueberries. I use only liberal salt and pepper but I'm sure you could add other seasonings.

Laura Rebecca said...

You know, blueberries in TURKEY BURGERS sounds like a great combo...

Margaret said...

Who'd a thunk'd it! As crazy and Yukko as this may seem - I'm going to have to give it a try.

You're incredible!

doodles said...

allow me to validate this absurd concotion. I had this several, several years ago while dinning in Vail, or Aspen or one of those Colorado hot spots. As I remember it was a boofalo burger and blueberries thrown in. It's fiber so it works and no moon no gagging cause ya can't really taste the blueberries. I guess if you can taste them ya put too many in. It's OK seester moon is my seester.
but a blueberry shooter might be an interesting addition ;)

david said...

Actually...there was some big study that showed that adding prunes to beef reduces the chance of nasty microorganisms growing on it, the kind that kill schoolchildren and stuff. Unfortunately the idea of adding prunes to kids burgers freaked out too many people (most notably, the beef industry, I'm sure...)

But blueberries? That freaks even me out.

And I ain't afraid of much. (Well, maybe prune-fueled schoolkids is a bit scary.)

keiko said...

Kevin - I actually want to give it a try :) I don't know why but it sounds right to me...

Trig said...

Delving into your archives here - I think blueberries in a burger would work, no question. Beef and berries make a great combo