I love hosting a delicious party.
For my summer instalment I really wanted to showcase the foods I enjoyed in my summers up at the cottage as a child. The city was blessed (thank the Lord) with perfect weather which all of my guests had the opportunity to enjoy while sun drenched in Mike and Darryl’s beautiful backyard garden. Obviously no summer BBQ is complete without ice cold beer. I was thrilled to serve one of Toronto’s favourite local beers, Steam Whistle Pils, which spent the duration of the afternoon and evening sitting in a cooler full of ice ready for plucking.
My goal for the evening was to share my love for simple yet thoughtful BBQ treats with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Mike and I discussed the menu months in advance. I spent the days leading up to the party prepping anything I could to make the actual execution of the meal effortless and enjoyable. No host should feel their kitchen is a prison!
Everyone knows the burger is a simple concept: minced beef patty and a bun with the fixins’ of your choosing. Everyone also knows they’ve had 1000 different burgers in their lifetime and only a handful of them have been memorable. My goal was to research the burger to death and do a bit of test kitchen sampling in June and July. I wanted to make my guests fall out of their seats in total “shock and love” for the beast sitting in their greasy hands.
Tips for Preparing the Perfect Burger
- I purchased lean Canadian minced beef mostly because it was on sales at the grocery store. Follow the deals my friends!
- My burger mix included: lean minced beef, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, egg, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and bacon fat.
- Did you just say Bacon Fat? Yes I did! The bacon on my burger was crisped in the oven. I drained the fat off the bacon, let it cool and incorporated this into my patty mix. The pig fat moistens the lean burger meat and also adds flavour perfection on the palate.
- I always dip my hands in cold water when forming the patties. It helps when your hands are carny hands like mine. They create a perfectly round and plump patty. If you are a large person with massive hands ask a small friend or child to form the patties for you!
- I seared each burger in a cast iron skillet on the stove. Once their exteriors were perfectly crisp I placed them on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven. The oven acts as a moisture trap and ensures that your burgers don’t dry out and cook uniformly.
- It’s important to consider the flavour profile and texture of your burger as this showcases the overall experience in the mouth. I featured smoked blue cheese, salty bacon, sweet mustard and caramelized onions which all paired well with the plump burger.
- I searched far and wide for Toronto’s Best Burger bun. I conducted endless twitter shout outs, facebook cat calls and google searches to find the much lauded OMG Bakery on Dundas West at Dufferin. The owner Lesley makes incredible Milk Buns which are used in many of the cities top restaurants. Remember great toppings and a juicy burger can only do so much, don’t shame yourself by using a crap bun! Make the effort to scour your neighbourhood for the best for your guests!
Ice Cold Steamwhistle Pils
Essential BBQ Snacks
smartfood, cheetos, miss vickies sweet chili and sour cream
onion, mushroom, chorizo, cream cheese, aged cheddar
The DobbernationLOVES Burger
caramelized onions, russian mustard, thick oven roasted bacon, rogue river smokey blue cheese, omg bakery milk bun
BBQ Fingerling Potato Salad
sweet peas, oakville mint, grainy mustard
Bresaola and Peach Salad
bresaola, ontario peach, arugula, bocconcini, evoo
Rice Krispy Squares
honey roasted peanuts, peanut butter, chocolate
A Summer Slump
bc blueberries, ontario peaches, tea biscuit topper, vanilla ice cream