Summer is great, picnics, pot lucks and back yard grill outs are plentiful, especially in Minnesota where these types of activities are off limits for six months out of the year. Unfortunately for us, this situation can lead to busy schedules and multiple engagements per week. And while we always like to socialize, the traditional fare of burgers, brats and hot dogs can wear a little thin, so this year we decided to bring a little flair to the picnic table.
The inspiration stemmed from a recent purchase of Tzatziki sauce from Costco, which in true Costco form came in a double pack measuring in at a total of 32 ounces.
The price was too good to pass up, but the sheer volume made it a challenge to use it all creatively (if you throw half of it away, it’s not really a value anymore). So far the most popular way has been to make a Greek inspired burger. The flavor can best be described as a beef gyro on a bun. Big flavors of olive, feta and the cool taste of cucumber dominate this sandwich and the aroma that comes off the grill will have the neighbors stopping by hoping to get an impromptu dinner invitation.
You may not have all the ingredients sitting around the fridge for this one, but it is worth a special trip to the grocery store.
To make up six to eight burgers start with:
2 lbs. ground beef (85/15 is best)
15 Kalamata olives (give or take) chopped
½ cup feta cheese
3 scallions chopped
½ tsp fresh black pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
Fixins should include (but don’t have to):
Blend your hamburger with the feta, olives, scallions, salt, and pepper and pat into 1/3 lb patties.
Heat up your grill to about 400 degrees and lay out the patties.
Let them go about four minutes per side flipping and turning twice (the turn is for nice cross hatches). Between flips would be a fine time to prepare the fixins. Notice there was no mustard or ketchup on the list, my favorite part about these burgers is the absence of the “classic” condiments. It’s not that I’m against them, it is just a nice change once in a while.
You should be looking for the juices to run clear to indicate doneness. Another nice feature about these is that the feta will sweat out a considerable amount of fat. This has two benefits: first, that means less fat in your food, and second, the smell of the burning drippings is very appealing.
If you have time, butter and toast your buns on the grill after the second flip. Once you feel confident that your patties have achieved perfect doneness, remove them to aluminum foil and prep your buns.
Layer the fixins as you see fit and assemble.
Last weekend I made these up the morning before an extended family picnic. The uncooked patties traveled well in a zip top bag in the cooler. We prepped our fixins ahead of time too and when it was time to grill, there was no mess. Just out of the bag and onto the grill. Luckily I made a few extra because people get curious when they see Tzatziki sauce at a Minnesota picnic.