Monday, September 13, 2010

a backyard barbeque

Air travel never ceases to amaze me. Although it's something that we all take for granted and complain endlessly about, there's something incredible about being in two completely different places within hours.

One day, I was eating pimento cheese and drinking champagne in my friends' backyard, walking along the beach and pointing at sea sponges and tiny crabs with my dad, wandering the wide, uncrowded aisles of a suburban Target like a bargain-hunting zombie. The next day, I was back at my desk, discovering sand in the bottom of my purse.
But back to that champagne and that backyard. I've written about Juliette and Nathan's backyard before. It is an idyllic little spot sheltered by a big shade tree and lush tropical foliage. At the center is a pretty patio with comfy furniture and twinkling lights and paper lanterns if Juliette is feeling festive. I love it there and think about it all the time, usually when the city gets that special hot garbage smell, or our rent goes up, or a homeless person yells at me, and I question my life choices. Anyway, it is a lovely space.

Dan and I and a few friends from high school met there for a Labor Day barbecue. There was sangria and burgers (filled with butter! and cheese!), homemade cole slaw, and lots and lots of snacks. And also, being that this is South Florida in the summer, some pesky rain clouds. Poor Juliette had to quickly re-do the set-up after an earlier passing shower messed up her decorations.
Not long after everyone settled in with drinks and conversation, we felt more rain drops coming in from the slats in the ceiling. Instead of taking the party indoors, our industrious hosts grabbed a giant tarp and with some help, unfurled it across the top of the patio. Everyone clapped, glasses were raised, all was saved. We sat outside well past 11:00, ending the meal with little cups of Jell-O fancied up with prosecco and raspberries.

I'm glad Juliette and Nathan were prepared for the rain, but it was such a fun night that I wouldn't have cared if we all got soaked. Which is pretty much the definition of a good party. 
Butter burgers
Tender and well, buttery, these are a Milwaukee specialty, where Nathan is from. This version, via Road Food, is not the exact recipe he used, but I think it's pretty close. He also added cheese inside the patties.

(Makes 6 burgers) 

1 lb. lean ground hamburger meat
6 buns
Condiments to taste
6-8 Tbsp. butter, soft enough to spread
1/2 to 1 cup chopped onions (optional)

Fashion hamburger meat into six round patties 1/4 to 1-/2-inch thick. Dust with salt. Prepare the insides of the tops of the buns with whatever condiments you want on the burgers. Spread the bottoms of buns with butter, using up about half of the total amount of butter. On a grill or in a heavy skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. If you want grilled onions on your burgers, toss in the onions and cook them until just barely soft; then scoot them to the side of the pan. Fry hamburgers on both sides until cooked to desired degree of doneness, about 3 minutes total for quite rare up to 6 or 7 minutes for well-done. Move the hot burgers onto the prepared bun bottoms, so heat from burger melts the butter on the bun. Serve immediately.


Nathan said...

It's always great to have you guys over, I'm sorry we didn't have more time together!

Generally butter burgers are cooked in a pan in a pat of butter, but since we were doing them on the grill I just incorporated it into the mix. My only regret was that the butter created a lot of smoke at first, so if anyone tries this, be prepared and maybe keep the grill a little further away from guests than I did, haha!

Unknown said...

Butter inside the burger? Whoa...

Lisa said...

Nathan: I wish we could have hung out more too. It's always so fun to see you guys. As for the smoke, I didn't notice it at all. Drinking too much, I guess?

Tender Brandson: Indeed.

Vanessa said...

I would also like to request Nathan's coleslaw recipe! This was the best barbecue I've been to all summer. Forget endless summer--I'd rather have Endless Barbecue.

Daniel said...

Don't worry about the proximity of the grill, Nathan. Remember, you were competing with hot garbage smell. Just my opinion, but butter burger grill smoke wins.

Vanessa said...

Jeez Dan, sorry! My shower's broken and it's 90 degrees outside!


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