Grilliant: Summer Burgers that Nod to Belgium

Cooking with Beer by | Aug 2007 | Issue #8

If you ask most chefs what they enjoy eating after a long day over the range, the usual answer is a burger. Here are two unique takes on the classic burger and some condiments that will not only showcase the main ingredient but impress your friends, too.

Trappist Burger
When I think about the ultimate burger, this is one of the top five that come to mind. This burger is inspired by the Trappist monks of Belgium—who are very choosy when it comes to their grain, hops and yeast. Those same flavors from each beer, representing six Trappist abbeys, find their way into this burger.

Serves: 4

4 tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 each yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 each leek, washed, sliced in half and cut into crescents
1 bottle Achel 8° Bruin
2 lb. ground lamb
1/2 lb. Chimay Grand Reserve cheese
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
4 each potato hamburger buns

4 bottles Westvleteren 12, to drink with this burger
Tomato Orval Ketchup (see recipe)
Rochefort 10 Mustard (see recipe)
Westmalle Tripel Aioli (see recipe)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Pommes frites (optional)

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter, stirring until the butter has melted and the foam has subsided. Add the onions and leeks; season lightly with salt, stirring occasionally for 10–12 minutes or until brown and caramelized. Deglaze the pan with Achel Bruin (leaving the yeast in the bottle) and reduce by half. Remove from the heat and place in a metal bowl to cool. Once the onion-and-leek mixture is cool, add the ground lamb and season with salt and pepper; mix to distribute equally and make 4 burger patties. Set patties on a plate and let sit as your charcoal or gas grill heats up.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes on each side, flipping them only once. This will help keep the burgers intact and create a nice outside crust with grill marks. Do not press on the burgers, or you will lose most of the moisture in the meat, making a dry burger. After each side has cooked, move the patties to the side of the grill with no coals or heat, add the cheese to the top of the burgers and let rest for 3 minutes. Place the hamburger buns over the flame and toast lightly 1–2 minutes. Remove the buns and patties from the grill.

To assemble, spread the Rochefort 10 Mustard and Westmalle Tripel Aioli on the bottom bun; next, add spinach and then the cheese-covered burger. Top the burger with Tomato Orval Ketchup and bun. Serve this burger with some pomme frites and a side of aioli, and pour a Westvleteren 12 for each of your guests to enjoy. What a perfect pairing for a worthy fest!

Grilled Buffalo Burgers
Marinated in Corsendonk Christmas Ale

Serves: 4

2 lb. ground buffalo meat (or lamb, beef sirloin or ostrich)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
6 oz. Corsendonk Christmas Ale
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 each red onion, peeled and sliced thin
4 each ciabatta buns, sliced in half

1/2 recipe Tomato Lambic Ketchup (see recipe)
Escarole or lettuce

In a medium bowl, add ground buffalo, salt, pepper, Corsendonk Christmas Ale and olive oil. Mix until combined. Let rest for 15 minutes and then form into 4 patties. Set patties on a plate while your charcoal or gas grill heats up.

In a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat, add butter and red onions, seasoning lightly with salt. Cook for 8–10 minutes or until the onions are soft and start to caramelize. Next, deglaze the pan with 6 ounces of Corsendonk, reducing by two-thirds. Turn off heat and set aside.

Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side, flipping them only once. Since buffalo meat is lower in fat and higher in protein, be careful to not overcook these burgers. Let burgers rest for 3–4 minutes to reabsorb their juices.

To assemble, place escarole or lettuce on the bottom bun; then add the cooked patty, beer-glazed red onions, Tomato Lambic Ketchup and the top bun.

Tomato Lambic Ketchup
Making your own ketchup at home is not only easy, but gives you the flexibility to adjust the condiment to your tastes. Using a sour ale instead of vinegar adds a nice depth of flavor not found in most commercial products.

Makes: 24 ounces

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups sweet onion (Walla Walla or Maui), peeled and chopped
1/4 cups organic sugar
1 tsp. ground brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. ground celery seeds
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
3 each garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
12 oz. Gueze lambic (substitute Orval for Tomato Orval Ketchup for Trappist Burger)
4 cups organic tomato puree

In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat and add onions, stirring until they are golden brown (8–10 minutes). Add the sugar, mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper to the pot and cook for another minute. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Deglaze the pan with vinegar and beer (leave behind any yeast from the bottle conditioning), stirring to remove any fond (brown bits on the bottom of the pan). Add the tomato puree and stir until combined. Bring the tomato mixture to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally over low heat. (Since the tomato puree has been reduced, a higher cooking temperature can burn the bottom of the pot if not stirred often.) After one hour, the mixture should be thick, having a ketchup-like consistency. Transfer to either a blender or a food processor, pureeing the mixture until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. The ketchup can be sealed in sterilized jars and kept indefinitely.

Westmalle Tripel Aioli
This version of aioli stretches the boundary of the classic recipe by adding the flavors of a Tripel to the mix of oil and eggs scented lightly with garlic. You can use this recipe on burgers, sandwiches and fries, or with artichoke leaves or a potato salad.

Makes: roughly 1 quart

1 each large egg, room temperature
4 oz. Westmalle Tripel
1 tsp. malt vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. mustard, Dijon or yellow
1/2 tsp. white pepper, freshly ground
1/2 clove garlic, minced
20–22 oz. canola or vegetable oil

In a blender, add egg, beer, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend for 15 seconds to combine; mixture will be foamy. On low speed, slowly, and only a few drops at a time, add the oil: This will start an emulsion—adding the oil too fast will break the emulsion. After adding about 3 ounces of oil, increase the speed of the oil from a few drops to a slow steady stream. As the oil blends with the egg, the mixture will thicken. Blend until creamy and thick, with the consistency of mayonnaise.

If the mixture looks oily or clotted, too much oil was added too fast, and the mixture separated or broke. To fix this, remove the mixture from the blender and place in another container. Add a new egg yolk to the blender and very slowly add the previous mixture as you would the oil. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with another ounce of beer, to get the right consistency.

Once you have the right thickness, transfer the aioli to a sterile jar and refrigerate for 30 minutes: This will allow the flavors to combine and the mixture to thicken slightly. The aioli will last a week in the refrigerator.

Rochefort 10 Mustard
Infused with caramelized shallots, dried figs and thyme leaves

Makes: 20 ounces

1 bottle Rochefort 10
1 cup brown or yellow mustard seeds
5 each dried figs, stems removed and quartered
1/4 cup malt vinegar
2 tbsp. butter, unsalted
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup shallots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. dark candi syrup or honey
1 tbsp. thyme leaves, preferably fresh
1 tbsp. yellow mustard powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

In a sealable container, add Rochefort 10, mustard seeds, figs and malt vinegar. Mix to combine; seal and place in the refrigerator overnight: This will help hydrate the mustard seeds, making it easier to grind them.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add butter, oil and shallots. Stir frequently for 8–10 minutes, until the shallots turn a dark brown color and smell sweet. Add the dark candi syrup (or honey) and thyme leaves, and cook for another minute. Transfer shallots to a blender, adding the Rochefort-soaked mustard seeds and liquid, mustard powder, salt and pepper; puree until smooth. Place in a sterile jar(s).

The resulting mustard will be strong and full in flavor. Letting the mustard sit in the refrigerator for 1–2 weeks will mellow and fuse the flavors. You can also warm the mustard over low heat if you want to use it right away: The heat will trigger an enzyme that breaks down the pungent flavor of the mustard. 

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