The Handoff: Lauren’s Best Burgers With Scape Aioli
By Lauren Wilson
Even though Karleen and I are quite a ways apart (540 straight miles to be exact) – me in Brooklyn, NY, her in Charlotte, NC – we have both been experiencing an early onset of hot summer weather this year. In my mind, summer is in full swing already. That’s why her summer-inspired Tomato and Corn Pie with Whole Wheat Crust from last week’s Relay gave me the idea to fully welcome summer with my first barbecue of the season.
Relaying off the homemade mayo in her recipe, I decided to barbeque with the old reliable stand-by, the workhorse of the summer grilling and get-together season: the burger. And what better way to dress it than with a good healthy shmearing of garlic scape aioli?
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After picking up ingredients at my local food co-op, greenmarket, and a great butcher shop in Williamsburg, I hunkered down and got organized. The burger recipe has been inspired from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook (a cookbook from Canadian Living magazine). Personally I find the original recipe, which calls for one whole egg per pound of meat plus breadcrumbs, yields a burger that is too meatloaf-y. So I have cut down the egg and breadcrumbs in my version, but they are needed to help bind on account of the grated onion.
And for scape pesto, you can go with the basic ingredients of traditional basil pesto: Parmesan cheese, lemon, pine nuts, olive oil. Plus scapes of course. I used Serious Eats’ recipe as a guide for proportions, but ended up cutting down the oil and adding a bit more Parmesan to my recipe below.
And for the aioli, I used my restaurant days knowledge that one egg yolk can generally take about 1 cup of oil when making mayo. Plus about a tablespoon of lemon juice (or other acid), salt and pepper, and oil (straight olive oil is too powerful for me, so I mix canola and olive) and you are good to go. While there is much argument about what makes aioli an aioli (does it have to be made from scratch, or just have garlic and lemon in it?), this here is the real deal with a garlicky twist from the added scape pesto.
Sure, you could mix minced scapes into the aioli rather than going through the trouble of making scape pesto, but if you make a big ol’ batch of pesto, then you can freeze it and enjoy a zip of summer during the dreary doldrums of winter. Totally worth it.
A final note on seasonality – as I mentioned in my first post the corn in Karleen’s recipe inspired me to serve roasted corn alongside my burgers, but corn here in NYC is not yet at it’s prime so I decided to leave it out. So as not to completely disappoint, I included a bonus recipe for a quick and delicious compound butter and cotija cheese topping for when corn season is in full-swing.
I was now ready to get my grill on. Literally. You will find my work plan and recipes below. I hope you have a great summer grilling season!
Lauren’s Best Burgers with Scape Aioli
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 8 burgers
For the scape pesto:
- 1 cup garlic scapes
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Juice and zest of ½ lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
Yields about 1.5 cups of pesto. **This recipe is great for doubling or tripling, and freezes well.
For the aioli:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1-2 Tablespoon garlic scape pesto, to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Yields about 1 cup aioli. **This yields a reasonably olive oil forward aioli. If you prefer less olive oil flavor, cut back the olive oil to ¼ cup and increase the canola oil to ¾ cup.
For the burger patties:
- 1lb ground chuck
- 1lb ground brisket
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 2 Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste, but don’t be stingy
For burger toppings (prepare for as many burgers as you are grilling):
- An earthy hard cheese, like Gruyere, sliced
- Shredded lettuce
- Sliced tomatoes
- Scape aioli
- Dijon mustard, to taste
Mise En Place:
- Put the egg for the aioli in a small bowl of warm water.
- Gather together the scapes, lemon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pine nuts, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.
- Roughly chop the scapes and put them into the bowl of your food processor.
- Grate the Parmesan and add it to the food processor. Slice the Gruyere and put it on a plate set aside for the burger toppings.
- Zest and juice the lemon – the zest can go into the food processor along with half the juice. The remaining juice can go into a mixing bowl for the aioli.
- Shred the lettuce and slice the tomato. Add to the plate with the Gruyere cheese.
- Toast the pine nuts on the stove, stirring constantly until browned. Remove from pan to prevent further browning. Let them cool, then add to the food processor.
- Grate your onion on a large box grater, using the large holes. It will get pretty watery, so have some paper towel on hand. Squeeze the excess moisture from the grated onion before putting it in a mixing bowl.
- Take out your oils, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside for now.
- Take out a bunch of measuring cups (preferably one spouted), spoons, spatulas, and another mixing bowl.
- Start with the scape pesto. Add the ½ cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to the food processor, which already contains the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Check seasoning and adjust if needed. If doubling (or tripling!) the recipe, portion out the rest as you see fit for freezing. I like to freeze a few tablespoon portions in snack size Ziplock bags that I can just grab out of the freezer when needed for things like aiolis, pasta dishes, or scrambled eggs.
- Next make the aioli. Separate your egg yolk and add it to a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and whisk it up. In a spouted measuring cup, add together your oils. Grab a friend, partner or child to slowly add the oil while you whisk. If your aioli starts to break (i.e. is not a smooth uniform mixture that is slowly thickening), stop and start over. You can whisk the broken aioli into the new batch. Once you’ve done whisking, add the scape pesto, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Now you’re ready for the burgers. Add the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and a generous helping of salt and pepper to the bowl with the grated onion. Mix everything together until well incorporated, but taking care to not mix the hell out of it. Form your patties, remembering to make them about a quarter flatter and larger than your buns (the patties will shrink on the grill). Individually wrap any patties you’re not using now then put them in a freezer safe bag. Gently slice a few lines into the burgers you are using to help prevent them from balling up too much when cooking. Refrigerate until you are ready to use them.
- When grilling the burgers, make sure the grill surface is nice and hot before putting on your meat. Once you put on your burgers (the sliced sides up), cover them and let them do their thing for about 5 minutes. Flipping too early can mean your burgers might stick, or fall apart. Also, remember to NEVER pat or press your burger while its cooking, this only forces out delicious juices that help flavor your burger and keep it most. Here are some good tips on grilling from Serious Eats.
- When your burgers are just about done to your preference (medium is 160F), slap on the cheese and let it melt. You can also toast the buns on the grill now, if you like.
- Cover the cheese with the bottom of the bun. Slip your spatula under the burger, lift it off the grill, then place the top of the bun under the spatula. Slip it out and serve. Top with the lettuce, tomato, scape aioli and mustard. ENJOY!
BONUS! Chili-lime Roasted Corn With Cotija Cheese:
Add 2 sticks of sweet butter, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tbsp chili flakes, 1/3 cup chopped chives, the zest of one lime, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth. Slather on roasted corn, then sprinkle with grated cotija cheese and squirt with a lime section. The butter freezes very well.