No. 143, 144 & 145: Grilled Corn with Basil Butter, Pork Burgers & The Texas Sipper

I can't express what a wonderful Saturday it was.

After kicking off the day with some decadent pancakes, we headed to Oakland to explore the world of cutlery and wholesale kitchen supply.

The Shaver & Cutlery Shop

Our first stop was The Shaver & Cutlery Shop on Telegraph. We have a nice little set of knives from our wedding registry 5 1/2 years ago, but were in need of an additional chef's knife.

The men in this shop were so gracious and helpful. Rex spent a good amount of time showing us the ins and outs of knife maintenance and telling great stories.

Did you know that you should pick up a steel and run your knife across it EVERY time you use it? Well, Mr. McC has tried to tell me that in the past... should have listened.

There's also a difference between maintaining a knife (fine edged steel with blade running across it at 5-10 degrees) and sharpening it (sharpening steel at an angle of 15-20 degrees).

One of the coolest things he showed was the paper test. A sharp knife should cut paper easily, with little force. Mr. McC tested our current chef's knife as soon as we got home. It cut the paper! Victory.

We walked out of the shop with two Messermeister knives and plans to bring the rest our our set back for professional sharpening.

East Bay Restaurant Supply

Down by the docks in Oakland, there is a big restaurant supply company that sells everything a commercial or residential kitchen could need. And it's open to the public!

Exploring this place was such an adventure. We walked around for a while analyzing every gadget and tool. I honestly didn't realize there were so many types of ladles and tongs. It's astounding.

We were specifically looking for a Le Creuset French Oven, basic bar tools like a jigger, and a small wood block cutting board. I'm pleased to say we found all of the above at terrific prices.

I'll be coming back here for a few things in the future:

  • Wedding gifts - You could put one heck of a kitchen gift together at this place.
  • Mason jars and old school milk jugs of every possible size - Such a fun way to present a gift or store dressings, sauces, etc.
  • More Le Creuset - I fell in love with the mini cocettes set and will eventually come back for an even bigger 7.5 quart French oven.
  • Chairs - They have terrific outdoor patio chairs for order. You can test them there.

The wholesale food market is just around the corner from this place. I'm tempted to take a tour around there early on a Saturday. I'd love to see the chefs in full gear choosing their wares.

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

Ok, thanks for reading this far:) On to the food.

Saturday ended with some amazing eats, starting with this grilled corn inspired by Bobby Flay and Food52.

Ingredients

4 ears of corn
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup basil, loosely packed
1/2 tablespoon sea salt

To make

Heat the grill to medium.

Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away the silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold husks back into place, and place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes. Cut two pieces of cooking twine and soak them in the water as well.

While corn soaks, whip up the butter. Add the butter, basil, and salt to a food processer and let it rip. You may need to scrape down the sides once or twice. When the basil is finely chopped and the butter has a light green tint, it's done.

Butter

Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Tie husks in place at top with twine.

Corn package

Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks and spread with the basil butter while hot. Sprinkle a bit more salt if desired.

Grilled Pork Burgers

This mix of pork in three forms was great inspiration for a riff on the usual hamburger experience.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 chile (any heat you desire), thinly sliced
1 pound ground pork
1/8 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed
2 ounces bacon, finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Manchego cheese for topping
Brioche buns or other good burger buns*
2 ounces arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*We had French rolls on hand from our meatball sandwiches earlier in the week, so we used those for mini buns.

To make

Heat pan on stove over medium-low heat. Add olive oil and shallots. Cook for a few minutes, sitrring, once or twice, until the shallots start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, cumin and sliced chile. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the shallots become translucent. Set aside to cool.

Final bowl

(The red is from the red jalapeno we used. It provided great heat and color.)

In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the ground pork, chorizo, bacon, shallot mixture, and parsley, being careful not to overmix the meat. Season with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Shape the meat into patties. Chill in the refrigerator if not using right away.

Patties

Light the grill and remove pork burgers from the refrigerator to come to room temperature. When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the pork burgers with olive oil and grill them 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until they're nicely browned. Turn the burgers over, and place a piece of cheese on each one. Cook another 3 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked through.

Slice the buns in half, brush them with olive oil, and toast them on the grill, cut side down, for a minute or so, until they're lightly browned.

Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun. Place some arugula leaves on top, and finish with the top half of the bun.

The Texas Sipper

Ingredients

1 1/2 parts vodka
1/2 part St. Germain
1 1/2 parts fresh grapefruit juice
Top with Club Soda

To make

Combine vodka, St. Germain, and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over fresh ice. Top with soda.

The results

We started the evening by lighting the charcoal and making a couple of Texas Sippers. That drink is a thing of beauty, and a bit dangerous.

Texas Sipper

The mini pork burgers grilled up in a snap, and so did the corn. Even with a good soaking the husks got nice and charred.

Final plate

The basil butter with a bit of salt was awesome on the corn. I'll be trying out herb butter on my toast or rolls at some point this week.

The layers of flavor in these little burgers and all their mix-ins were excellent. The original burger recipe does call for aioli and romesco. I avoided them because of the need for ingredients I rarely use. Still, I think they would have been really wonderful on these little guys. If you're in a gourmet mood, definitely go the full distance.

What a Saturday! Mr. McC and I topped off this meal with a hilarious comedy hour by Aziz Ansari. If you have Netflix, check out Buried Alive.

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Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at theresolvedcook@gmail.com