I have an uncanny knack for regularly arriving at the future slightly ahead of the rest and waiting for them to catch up. At the risk of sounding (even more) arrogant, I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a Jetson living in a world of Flintstones when it comes to anything even remotely pop culture related. Case in point: I actually cancelled my subscription to US Weekly because I noticed the latest issue at the grocery store checkout several days before it arrived in my mail box! Dear US Weekly: Celebrity news has a shelf life! You know when you hear a song on mainstream radio and you announce that you really like it and someone rains on your parade by piping up, “Oh that tired old song?! I had the dance mix import from the UK nine months ago!” Subtext: You’re sooo 2000-LATE! I’m totally that guy! Obnoxious? Maybe. Okay, definitely, but I’ve always loved being “in the know” at least 15 minutes before everyone else catches on. Call it a personality quirk or a design flaw, but I can’t help it! It’s no wonder one of my favorite moments in last year’s Sex and the City movie had the girls sitting around a table sipping cosmos in a chic Manhattan restaurant and Carrie asking, “Why did we stop drinking these again?” Without missing a beat Samantha replied, “Because everyone else started.” Enough said.
And that brings me to the last few months of my life - the part where I was apparently living in the dark, or even worse, the past! Yikes! Seems I may be losing my touch. I got a call from my manager one day last spring asking me to meet with a cutting edge production company in L.A. (http://deca.tv/) about being a host of a new cooking web series called Good Bite (http://goodbite.com/). “Web series?!” I asked, already conjuring up inventive excuses to get out of the meeting. “Web series,“ she reiterated, in a tone that I knew better than to argue with. Perhaps this is a good time to mention that my nickname for my manager is “Momager;” you know, like Dina Lohan or Terri Shields. Anyway, I did what I was told, met with the production company and loved what I heard! On my way home from the meeting, stuck in traffic on L.A’s 405 freeway I called my manager to say, “Get me this job! I have to be a part of this.”
Perhaps one of the coolest things DECA is doing with the creation of Good Bite is bringing together America’s top food bloggers for lively online video discussions about all things food and cooking, along with demo videos from myself and the other Good Bite hosts. And what an honor it is to be working along side such an esteemed group. Each 2-minute episode of the show makes delicious food easy, provides accessible recipes and solutions for home cooks and an opportunity for you to become part of the discussion. The Good Bite website is focused on finding the very best in food and bringing it to you in a fresh and inventive way.
All I can say is it’s a good thing I didn’t let the phone go to voicemail the day my Momager called about that fateful meeting. Turns out she had some news for me... about the future.
Caramelized Balsamic Onions
& Smoky Chipotle Ketchup
FOR THE BURGERS
2 1/4 pounds ground brisket
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons steak sauce (recommended: A1 Brand)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
FOR THE ONIONS
1 pound red onions, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
FOR THE KETCHUP
1 cup ketchup
1 to 2 teaspoons canned chipotle peppers*, seeded and diced, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can, or to taste
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
FOR THE TOMATOES
6 Roma tomatoes
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
6 Brioche Rolls or good hamburger buns, split, cut side toasted or grilled
6 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
To caramelize the onions, heat oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes or until soft and deep golden brown. Don’t rush this part. It really does take about 20 minutes to develop the sugars and caramelize the onions. Trust me, your patience will be rewarded. They key to success is low and slow. Season with salt and pepper and add the balsamic vinegar during the last couple of minutes to deglaze the pan. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Spread tomato halves on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss together to ensure everything is coated evenly. Roast for 45 minutes, cut side up, without turning, until the tomatoes are concentrated and caramelized. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.
To make the ketchup, Stir together the ketchup, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce in a small bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.
To make the burgers, whisk together the egg yolks, steak sauce and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the ground brisket and put a touch of olive oil on clean hands to keep meat from sticking and to prevent over mixing. Carefully work the meat with your fingertips until just combined. It’s important not to overwork the meat, doing so results in a tough burger. To form patties, shape a loose ball in your hand and press half a tablespoon of the cold butter into the center of the meat. Lightly form each hamburger with the balls of your hands making sure the butter is entirely encased, but don’t pack the meat. The more you pack, the denser the burger will be and it will leave more potential for shrinkage. The burgers should be half an inch thick. Season both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper.
Heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high.
Grill the burgers for 5 to 7 minutes on each side to desired doneness. Remove to a plate, add cheese and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes and serve immediately on buns with desired fixin’s.