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Eric Akis: Humble hamburger steaks get the gourmet treatment

Ground beef is decadently dressed up with tangy blue cheese, red wine sauce
Tender hamburger steaks are decadently dressed up with blue cheese and wine sauce. ERIC AKIS

If you crave a tender, tasty steak, but can’t stomach the price of cuts such as beef tenderloin or rib eye, purchase more budget friendly ground beef, instead, and transform it into a dish just as pleasing. I took this approach with today’s hamburger steak recipe that’s easy to make and has options on how you can prepare it.

Hamburger steaks are, of course, ground beef formed into steak-shapes before cooking them. Before you form the meat you mix it with ingredients that will help hold it together when cooked, such as breadcrumbs and egg. You also mix the meat with ingredients that will richly flavour it and/or enhance its tenderness; mine included minced green onion, thyme, garlic, Dijon mustard and milk.

Before adding those ingredients to the ground beef, I mixed them together first until well blended, and then mixed into the meat. Doing that makes it easier to quickly incorporate them into the ground beef without overworking the meat, ensuring it’s does not overly compact and is tender to the bite when cooked.

After my hamburger steaks were cooked and plated, I dressed them up by topping each one with some sliced, creamy, tangy blue cheese and a red wine flavoured sauce. It’s a decadent way to turn humble ground beef into a creation you might see served in a bistro or café with green beans, carrot and potatoes, how I served them.

If you don’t like blue cheese and/or or can’t have wine, the options part of recipe addresses those concerns.

My recipe yields four servings. If that’s too many for you, after forming the hamburger steaks, only the cook the ones you need now, but do make all of the sauce. Wrap and freeze the steaks you did not cook and separately freeze the leftover sauce. Later in the year when you want hamburger steaks again, thaw those items, cook the steaks, heat up the sauce, and finish the dish as described in the recipe.

Hamburger Steaks with Blue Cheese and Wine Sauce

Humble ground beef formed into steaks, cooked, plated and decadently topped with tangy blue cheese and red wine sauce.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes: four servings

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup dried bread crumbs

2 Tbsp milk

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 large green onion, minced (see Note)

1 large garlic clove, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp minced fresh thyme, or pinch or 2 dried

1/2 tsp salt, plus some to taste

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus some to taste

1 1/4 pounds (about 560 grams) lean ground beef

100 to 125 grams blue cheese, cut into thin slices

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup red wine

1 3/4 cups beef stock or broth (divided)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

• chopped fresh parsley, to taste (optional)

Place egg, bread crumbs, milk, mustard, green onion, thyme, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. Add ground beef and gently mix to combine it with the ingredients in the bowl. With cold water-dampened hands, form meat mixture into four, 3/4-inch thick, oval patties and set on a plate. Preheat oven to 200 F.

Place oil in a large skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the hamburger steaks and cook four to five minutes per side, or until entirely cooked through. When cooked, the centre of the hamburger steaks should register 160 F (71 C) or above when tested with an instant read meat thermometer.

Set steaks on a baking pan and keep warm in the oven. Meanwhile, drain excess fat from the skillet and set back over medium, medium-high heat. Add the wine and reduce to about 2 Tbsp. Add 1 cup of the stock (or broth) and bring to simmer. Place remaining 1/2 cup stock (or broth) and flour in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour and whisk this mixture into the skillet, return to a simmer, and simmer until a thickened sauce forms, about three to four minutes. Taste and season sauce with salt and pepper, as needed.

Set a hamburger steak on each of four heated dinner plates. Top each hamburger steak with some blue cheese. Ladle on the sauce, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve.

Note: To mince the green onion, cut it lengthwise into thin strips. Line up those strips, and then thinly cut them, widthwise, into small pieces.

Eric options: If you don’t like blue cheese, top each hamburger steak with thinly sliced brie cheese or goat cheese, or simply omit cheese from the recipe. If you can’t have wine, when making the sauce, replace it with 1/3 cup more stock (or broth) and a splash of balsamic vinegar and reduce it as described for the wine, before finishing the sauce.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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