Ranch Burgers and the "Yes, This Corn Actually IS More Important Than You" Corn On The Cob Masterpiece Of Life

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yes, the corn was actually that good. But so was the burger and potato salad...

Our friends Tania and Kasra invited us over to their place to partake in the burger ritual known as Ranch Burgers Extravaganza. Ok, so that's my name for it. But believe me, these burgers were awesome and totally merit the adulation.

You must understand. We'd been planning this dinner for literally a year. Scheduling conflicts, sick kids, work....everything managed to tank the dinner for one reason or another until we finally held our fists up to the gods and said "Enough! I must have The Burger before I move!" And so the gods blessed us and made us lost only a little bit on our way over to their place.

We got there and Andrew opened a bottle of wine...sort of:

Heh. It was funny.

But I wasn't there for wine. I was there for burgers...

Delicious beef patties dotted with white onion, seasoned simply with a packet of ranch (you know...the stuff you make dip with for carrots and celery?). I didn't know it could be that easy. That tasty. That...good.

Add some melted cheese and Thousand Island dressing and we're in business, people.

Tell me you don't want to dive through your computer screen right now and pull out one of these gorgeous burgers. Yes, they were that good.
And just when I thought I had gone to heaven in Burgerland, the sides came coming...
Ina Garten's potato salad...

Creamy. Formidable. Perfection. I've tasted a few potato salad recipes and have found them to be kind of "meh" but this one quite possibly could be the best one I've ever had. I am not surprised. Go Ina!

And then we had shrimp...

tip: make sure if you're grilling shrimp to get the raw shrimp at the store; don't use cooked shrimp because by grilling it, you're overcooking it!
And then...the corn...

Kasra told us a funny story about how he'd go to visit Tania at law school and he's stop off first at this place that made this corn, and he'd actually make her wait, even after not seeing her for a while, just so he could have the corn because it was that good. And I thought to myself "bullshit - corn can't be that good." And you know what? It was...

Corn on the cob, grilled then smothered in butter and mayo, then topped with grated cotija cheese and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
Holy Deliciousness.
Best corn ever. Seriously, no joke. My favorite corn used to be the one with parmesan and basil I'd make every day last summer, but I think this summer it's gonna be cotija and lime all the way, every day. This was an insanely good recipe. Sweet corn that got only sweeter from the caramelization that happened when you grill it, then butter and just a touch of mayo lathered on so the salty cotija cheese could stick to it, then a sharp, smoky bite from the cayenne and the fresh lime squeeze just elevated the whole thing up a notch. It was amazing.
I get excited about food, but this recipe I am really excited about. You must try this at your next grill party. And it's super cheap to feed a crowd as well.

For dessert? Persian rose water cookies:

So yum. And lime pops for the kids. ;)
Tania and Kasra have been generous in letting me share their recipes with you here on the blog. I love that both recipes can be easily adapted for crowds, and ingredients can be easily substituted. Don't like onions? Use garlic. Can't find cotija cheese? Do feta. This is another great example of cooking being about techniques rather than ingredients. Follow the basic steps and let your imagination do the rest in the kitchen.
Ranch Burgers
2 pounds ground beef (20% fat; can also use ground chuck)
1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers
1 onion, chopped
deli sliced sharp white cheddar
sliced tomato
thousand island dressing
your favorite burger buns

Preheat the grill for high heat.
In a bowl, mix the ground beef, ranch dressing mix, egg, crushed crackers, and onion. Form into hamburger patties. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place patties on the grill, and cook 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Once one side is done, flip the burger and top it with a slice of cheese if desired to reach melted cheese stage.
Serve with sliced tomato, lettuce, and thousand island dressing if desired.
Potato Salad courtesy of Ina Garten
3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room
Marinated Grilled Shrimp courtesy of allrecipes.com
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
skewers (soaked in water for at least an hour)

In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, and red wine vinegar. Season with basil, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add shrimp to the bowl, and stir until evenly coated. Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
Preheat grill for medium heat. Thread shrimp onto skewers, piercing once near the tail and once near the head. Discard marinade.
Lightly oil grill grate. Cook shrimp on preheated grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque.
"Yes, This Corn Actually IS More Important Than You" Corn on the Cob
6 corn on the cob, husks and silks removed
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup mayo
grated cotija cheese*
cayenne pepper
fresh lime wedges
Preheat grill to high.
Grill the corn on direct heat until you achieve char marks, making sure to turn the corn frequently. Remove from heat and immediately rub them with butter. Using a knife or back of spoon (or basting brush), spread a little bit of mayo on the cob; the mayo will help the cheese stick. Either directly grate the cheese right on the corn or grate the cheese in a plate and then roll the corn in the cheese to cover it more densely. Top with a small pinch of cayenne pepper and serve with lime wedges.
*You can find cotija cheese in the mexican cheese section of your grocery store, where the pickles, horseradish and fresh tortillas are located. If you can't find it you can substituted with crumbled feta cheese.


Pookie said...

Tania here of Tania and Kasra fame. :)

We loved having ES & family over! It's an honor to have our food featured on your blog! :)

Just wanted to note that, per the suggestion of some reviews on the Food Network's website, I do not add the salt in the last step of the potato salad. (Also, don't make the same mistake I did and misread "teaspoons" to be "tablespoons" -- that also is too much salt!)

Lastly, Kasra gets credit for everything except the potato salad. :)

Amanda Ebner said...

If you stopped me on the street and said, "Hey, what are five of your all-time favorite things to consume?" I would immediately answer, "Meat. Ranch. Corn. Shrimp. Rose water."

These recipes are AMAZING! I am drooling on my keyboard.

B. said...

This sounds great great great! Maybe one day I'll be as lucky and will get to try a T&K special burger.

Brian said...

Considering that corn on the cob has been sold out everytime I've gone to the market lately, maybe it actually is more important than me.

Also, Ranch is definitely an all-purpose flavor. Have you tried mixing it with eggs before scrambling? Hmm?! Mmm.