Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Chicken Burger!

Is it a chicken sandwich? Is it a burger? No, It's CHICKEN BURGER to the rescue!!

"In-deli-servitude" continues today with a round of hot sandwiches. We did a variety of classics--Reubens, tuna melts--grilled sandwiches, and we sort of cleaned out the fridge for some of them. We had a leftover prime rib from some other event, so we turned part of it into a barbecue beef sandwich and some into a Philly Cheesesteak-style sandwich. (We are so not getting into what consititutes a "real" Philly cheesesteak! Real, schmeal! Personally, I love the version that involves provolone cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms, and comes nowhere near that Cheez Whiz stuff! Just my (not so) humble opinion.)

Chef mentioned that a good pantry chef or garde manger is a whiz at doing something with leftovers that can be turned around to make money. Hence, the prime rib into cheesesteaks and barbecue sandwiches, made from food from the night before, which could be served at lunch.

We did a couple of grilled cheese-type sandwiches. One was a triple-cheese melt with Colby, Montery Jack, and bleu cheese, that was fabulous. It was gooey, creamy, and tangy all at the same time. We also did a little tea-type sandwich where we blended some some bleu cheese crumbles into some cream cheese and layered it with some thinly sliced pears on a little round of bread...we had some pears that needed to be used since we wouldn't be back in class until next Monday, so we threw this into the hot mix. Quite tasty they were.

The highlight of the day, for me at least, was the Chicken Burgers. Yeah, yeah, you read that right. Chicken Burgers. Whatever. They really did rock...probably because it was basically ground chicken combined with Duxelles stuffing (remember our old friend, Duxelles? You know, mushrooms that have been sauteed in butter then cooked in reduced heavy cream--that Duxelles), pan fried in butter...what's not to like? Take a look and see what you think:

Chicken Burgers (10 portions)


2½ lbs ground chicken

6 oz bread crumbs


2 tbsp chopped herbs, such as chives, oregano, basil, or parsley

1 tsp salt

½ tsp white pepper

10 oz thinly sliced provolone cheese

10 Kaiser rolls

4 fl oz melted butter, or as needed

10 green or red leaf lettuce leaves

20 tomato slices


1. Gently mix the chicken, bread crumbs, duxelles, herbs, salt, and pepper. Form into patties.

2. Lightly butter a flattop or griddle. Brown the patties on both sides. Finish in a 350-degree F oven to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

3. Before serving, top each burger w/provolone cheese and return to oven to melt.

4. For each sandwich, slice a roll, leaving the bread hinged. Brush with melted butter, then grill or toast lightly

5. Place a burger on the roll and serve open-faced with a leaf of lettuce and 2 slices of tomato.

The one thing you need to be absolutely sure of is that the burgers are well done…no medium-rare chicken, please! And, we sort of disregarded that “lightly butter a flattop or griddle” thing. We used a large sauté pan and put in a generous portion of butter. The chicken we used was all breast meat, so it didn’t have a lot of natural fat, hence the butter.

Mother Hen was in charge of this dish, and I think she executed it well. Her patties were thick and moist, with a nicely seared exterior. And, she got to use the meat grinder attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer. I’ve eyeballed that little baby over the last couple of years, but couldn’t really justify having one…until now! (Yeah, yeah, I could get ground chicken at the grocery store, but you know that chicken I grind myself will be soooooo much better. And, for some odd reason, I've always wanted to try making my own sausage.

The lowlight of the day was the tuna melts, which the Chiclet and I were assigned. I hate canned tuna with the white hot fury of 10,000 suns. Hate it. Don't even like being in the same county with it, much less the same room. The only way I've ever been able to eat tuna salad is if it contains a lotta lotta apple, preferable Red Delicious, which kills the fishy taste. And, the thing I hate more than tuna out of a can is hot canned tuna. Ye gods! Take something that's rather vile to begin with and then add heat to intensify the ick factor. I think tuna casserole is a waste of perfectly good noodles and cheese--noodles and cheese that could have served a more noble, higher cause like mac and cheese, or maybe they could just leap right into the garbage disposal rather than suffer the indignities of tuna casserole.

And, then we get into the dichotomy of it all, because I like raw tuna-- sushi, tuna rolls, etc. I've also had a bite or two of grilled tuna that I liked, but have never actually ordered a tuna steak on my own. Weird, I know, but everybody's got their own little quirks...and I've probably got a few more weirder ones that just haven't been revealed yet. Gotta preserve the mystery, ya know.

We had so many sandwiches that after we were done tasting (read: gorging ourselves), I loaded up a couple of plates and took them to the front office staff. It's always been a personal theory of mine that you need to keep whatever admin staff you come in contact with, whether it's your very own or just a group in your organization, happy, and free food usually equals happy in some form or another. I once worked as a contractor on a goverment site, and the person I worked with had nothing but disdain for the government secretaries in the office for which we worked. She treated them like they were servants. As a result, her needs always had the lowest priority, and sometimes, things got, shall we say, "lost." Anyway, the college office folks were very appreciative of the free food, and there were even some other students in the office who got to taste some things. As Chef said, he hates to see food go to waste, and we both agreed on the "keep the admin folks happy" policy.

Our class is a little understaffed for the next couple of weeks, because a group of students went to Italy for a mini cooking school. Jealous, I am...very jealous. Poor Chef Pantry--he has to sub for Chef Banquet, because she went as one of the chaperones, so he's seeing a whole lot of a lot of us (how's that for sentence construction?). But the good news is that he's taking our Banquet class on a field trip today, to a local high-end meat purveyor. Yeah, field trip! Wonder if we get boxed lunch? A nice boxed lunch of ribeye or NY strip would be lovely, don'tcha think? We can dream, can't we?


Linna said...

I just can't get excited about chicken burgers. I guess I've eaten too many turkey burgers that turned out rubbery. The bread crumbs probably helped a lot.

You are totally on target with the "keep the staff happy" campaign. Once upon a time I had a really large document to get through a tech pubs department. About half way through the job, I brought my pubs person a Really Big box of chocolates. Not only did she fall all over herself getting that doc out, all the other tech pubs people were suddnely my best buddies. Chocolate was cheap insurance.

SkippyMom said...

A restaurant I worked at while in college had prime rib on the menu. Invariably it sold out [it was a pretty special dish "way back when" in our little everyone ordered it] But, BUT on the outside chance there were leftovers Chef made a Shepard's pie with it that I still dream about....mmmmmmm prime rib shepard's pie....sigh....comfort food at it's finest...