Is it just me or are the titles of my recipes getting longer and longer? I guess I could have just called these buffalo burgers and left it at that; but how could I not mention the amazing pesto that really makes these burgers jump off the plate? Well if you can think of a shorter name that encompasses all these flavors, let me know. Because I can’t…and I’m the one writing this post, not you.
I have gone most of my adult life completely unaware of garlic scapes and that’s just sad. Garlic scapes have a rich, garlic taste (hello…garlic addict right here!) but isn’t as sharp as using raw garlic itself. Because of their unique flavor, garlic scapes are great for pesto. They combine the green of the usual herbs used in pestos along with the garlic. So think of it as Mother Nature’s version of a two for one sale.
When I found out garlic scapes were going to be in my weekly CSA share, I knew I was going to make pesto with it. I also had a thought in the back of my head to use the pesto in a chicken burger since the 4th of July is close at hand. But as I was walking through the Dupont Circle farmer’s market, I came upon Cibola Farms, a purveyor of buffalo meat and various pork products. I have never had buffalo meat but knew it to be a heart healthy alternative to cow beef. I spoke briefly with the guy running the stand about the taste and cooking techniques of buffalo meat and I was convinced. I had to try some and I definitely had to try it using my pesto idea. I picked up some ground buffalo meat and promised to let him know how my burgers turned out.
For the Pesto:
1 bunch garlic scapes
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts (walnuts are better, but pine nuts will do in a pinch)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 ounces sun dried tomatoes, completely drained of the oil and wiped dry
Salt and pepper to taste
For the burgers:
2 lbs ground buffalo meat
1 batch sun dried tomato and garlic scape pesto
Cut off the ends of the garlic scapes and place them in a food processor. Add the cheese, nuts and tomatoes (make sure they are completely dry by wiping them with a paper towel…trust me, this is important). Blitz the ingredients in a food processor until they are well combined. Slowly pour in half of the olive oil and check to see if the pesto is a thick but blended consistency. If it is, you do not need to add anymore olive oil. If it’s not, continue to slowly add the oil until it has reached the desired texture. This texture is vital because it will also serve as the binder for the buffalo meat.
Line a baking sheet with foil and set it aside for the burgers. Place the ground buffalo meat in a bowl and add the pesto. Using either your hands or a wooden spoon, completely incorporate the pesto and the meat. Form patties with the mixture either free form or you can be anal like me and use a round mold. Place the formed patties on the baking sheet. Depending on the size of the patties, this recipe can make up to a dozen burgers. Once you have formed all of the patties, place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
At this point, you can either grill the burgers, broil them or use a grill pan on the stove top. If you grill them (either on the stove top or the grill), make sure to grill them slowly. Buffalo meat must be cooked at a slower pace than cow beef. If you plan on broiling them, place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in the oven so the patties will cook slowly. I opted to broil them, cooking them for about 3 minutes on each side.
I topped the burgers with a smoked mozzarella and ate a great mesculin mix salad along with it. And as an aside, save the sun dried tomatoes, burger buns, nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, everything used to make this meal came from my local farmers. See how tasty eating local can truly be?
Finally, these burgers will be entered into the latest Marx Foods recipe contest to build the best burger. The winner receives 10 pounds of the burgers of your choice (Marx Foods sells over ten varieties, including Kobe) just in time for the Summer grilling season. Let the throwdown begin!