With summer well underway here in Virginia, the garden starts to mature and the annual herbs begin to “bolt,” or send up flower stalks and go to seed.
In years previous I would take this as a sign to dig up the herbs, and replant them with fresh seed. But herb flowers, and the young green seeds, are a seasonal ingredient all their own with a short window of opportunity, and should be appreciated.
While herb flowers themselves have a unique flavor, the new seeds are wonderfully pungent, fresh, and complex. Take, for example, cilantro as it blooms to create the coriander seed.
Look closely at bolting cilantro and you’ll see the green and shiny new coriander seed pods. When bitten these soft, somewhat crunchy pods pop on the tongue to surrender a fresh, spring coriander flavor.
Immediately the flavors of beef and black pepper immediately come to mind.
Green Coriander Basted Sliders with Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries
It’s good to grind fresh beef when making any burgers.
It’s easy and even modest supermarket cuts will yield a better burger than the prepared ground beef available in most stores. Use a Kitchen Aid attachment for the mixer, or any other option. It’s worth the investment.
You can use chuck – but any kind of beef will do. Grind twice through the smaller holes of a meat grinder and season with salt and pepper. Then proceed with making the patties.
The key to this recipe is basting the sliders with a green coriander and black pepper infused butter.
Makes 8 sliders
1 lb chuck, cut into cubes and ground twice through the small holes of a meat grinder, or 1 lb good quality ground beef
8 small buns
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp green coriander seed, from a blooming cilantro plant
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp butter
Slider condiments of choice: mushrooms sauteed in butter, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, mayo
1 medium sweet potato, cut into shoestrings on a mandolin (or slice into thin strips by hand)
Season the beef with salt and pepper – about ½ tsp each. Toss lightly to combine, do not overwork the meat. Shape by hand into 8 equal portions, using a kitchen scale to measure 2 ounces each. Shape gently into one inch thick slider burgers.
Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot add the canola oil. When hot, but not smoking, add the burgers and sear on one side until crisp and the juices just begin to emerge on the top of the burger, about 4 minutes for a one-inch thick burger.
Flip the sliders and increase the heat to high. After 2 minutes turn it back to medium. This will help maintain temperature as you sear the second side. As soon as you flip the burgers add the butter, peppercorns and green coriander seed. Watch out as there may some popping and spitting. Baste the burgers with the now fragrant butter as they cook. Continue to cook on the second side until done, about 4 minutes total.
Allow to rest for four minutes, or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, cook the shoestring fries. Fill a deep medium saucepan or Dutch oven with 3 cups peanut oil and heat over high heat. When hot (375 degrees) plunge in the fries. Do not overload the oil – the fries can be cooked in batches and held in a warm oven if needed. Stir the fries a few times as they cook to keep them loose and separated. Remove after 3 minutes (or when golden brown), remove to paper towels to drain and season immediately with salt. The fries will crisp as they cool.
Toast the buns lightly in the hot skillet. Slather mayo on both buns. Place a burger on each bottom half and top with mushrooms, romaine, tomato, and top bun. Serve with sweet potato shoestrings and ketchup for dipping.