by George Graham, Acadiana Table

It’s been five years since I traveled from Lafayette, Louisiana, to compete in Napa, California, on the nationally televised Food Network Challenge. It was September 2008 at the Sutter Home Winery Build-A-Better-Burger cook-off where, as a finalist, I cooked my Bluesiana Burger and won the respect of the judges. I guess that out of 9,000 burger entries, first runner-up was pretty respectable.

Meat, bread, and other stuff—some might say burgers are pretty simple. To be honest, they are correct—a basic, plain, and simple hamburger can often be memorable. So, the premise of my new short rib cheeseburger is best described as simplicity and focus on quality ingredients that elevate the basic experience. If truth be told, simplicity can take a lot of thought—and work.

For me, cooking is a journey of discovery and sometimes you have to go to the mountaintop to see that there is a simpler path to your destination, even if it does take some extra work to get there.

Coffee-Rubbed Short Rib Cheeseburger
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 pounds bone-in short ribs
  2. ¼ cup kosher salt
  3. ½ pound beef fat, cut into 1-inch cubes, chilled
  4. Coffee Dry Rub, recipe below
  5. 4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
  6. Creolaise Sauce, recipe follows
  7. Cajunized Onions, recipe follows
  8. 8 slices sharp Cheddar cheese
  9. 2 tablespoons lager beer, such as Abita
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place a cooling rack on top of pan. Rub short ribs with salt; place meat side down on cooling rack. Chill in refrigerator for 24 hours. Wipe away any remaining salt and turn meat bone side down, and replace paper towels if necessary. Return to refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. Cut meat away from bone and cut into 1-inch cubes. Refrigerate until very cold, about 2 hours. Feed meat alternately with beef fat into a meat grinder fitted with coarse-grind plate. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Switch to fine-grind plate and grind meat once more. Form meat into 4 (8-ounce) patties.
  3. Sprinkle top side of each patty with about 1 tablespoon Coffee Dry Rub. Using your thumb, make an indentation in top of burger. This helps the patty keep its shape while cooking.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place patties seasoned side up, cooking in batches if necessary. Cook 3 minutes, flip, and cook 2 more minutes. Remove to a plate to rest for at least 5 minutes. Spread bottom hamburger buns generously with Creolaise Sauce.
  5. Turn skillet to medium-low heat, and add patties back to the pan. Cook 3 minutes on each side for medium doneness. With the seasoned side up, top each patty with ¼ cup Cajunized Onions. Add 2 slices of cheese on top of onions. Pour 2 tablespoons beer into pan and cover immediately. Cook 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Remove patties from pan and place on prepared buns.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Coffee Dry Rub
Yields 7
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  2. 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  3. 1 tablespoon finely ground dark roast coffee, such as Community Coffee
  4. 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, pepper, coffee, sugar, and salt.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Creolaise Sauce
Yields 3
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup mayonnaise, such as Blue Plate
  2. ¼ cup Creole mustard, such as Zatarain’s
  3. ½ tablespoon hot sauce, such as Louisiana Gold
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Cajunized Onions
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  2. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 large yellow onions, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings
  4. 1 tablespoon cane molasses, such as Steen’s
  5. 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, such as Slap Ya Mama
  6. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. In small batches, add onions into pan in a single layer. Cook until translucent and lightly browned, about 2 minutes; set aside while cooking remaining batches. Add all onions back to the pan; add molasses. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes until very brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in Cajun seasoning and pepper.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
 

By George Graham. For more of George’s musings on all things Cajun and Creole, visit acadianatable.com.