With parmesan crisps, broccoli rabe, pan-roasted mushrooms and pine-nut butter

Originally published May 29, 2014

Makes six third-pound burgers.
2 pounds 80/20 grass-fed ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
canola or grapeseed oil
6 brioche rolls or hamburger buns
2 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter

Heat cast-iron skillet to High (or heat grill to 500 degrees).
Keep meat refrigerated until you’re ready to form the patties into your desired size. Use your thumb to make an indentation in each burger to prevent patties from shrinking into too round of a shape when grilling. Place the burgers on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up. Remove meat from freezer. Season on one side with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper but not enough to overwhelm the flavor of the beef.
Drizzle a small amount of oil over the top the prevent sticking.
If the pan is heated to the proper temperature, you will see whiffs of smoke coming off of it. Place the patties directly on the hottest area, with the seasoned side down, giving yourself enough room to flip (work in groups of three to avoid overcrowding). Salt and pepper the unseasoned side of the burger and close the lid. Let sit about 3 minutes per side to achieve a medium doneness, or 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side for medium-rare. In the meantime, split rolls or hamburger buns. Spread an even layer of butter on both sides and place face down onto another hot pan for about 20 seconds to get a touch of char and crisper texture on the bread. Remove buns and set aside.
When the burgers are cooked to your preferred doneness, remove from pan and place directly on the flat-sided bun. You’re doing this because if the meat just rests on a plate or a cutting board, there will be residual juice that departs your finished product. If you put the patty straight from the pan to the bread, all of that juice will get soaked up for your enjoyment. Don’t worry about the bun becoming soggy. These burgers won’t last that long.

To complete The Lakelander burger, serve with these condiments:


4 ounces shaved parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a nonstick or silicone cookie sheet, make six small piles with the shredded cheese, and then flatten them out so they are circular and level.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool. Once cooled they will be crispy discs of cheese, cracker-like in texture.


1 bunch broccoli rabe or rappini (roughly chopped)
4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of red chili pepper flakes
salt to taste
From start to finish these greens will only take about 3 minutes to cook. Keep a close eye on them so as not to overdo it.
Heat a large sauté pan on Medium-High. Pour in oil and let it heat up until heated through. Place broccoli rabe evenly in the pan and let sit about 1 minute. Sprinkle salt and garlic directly over the leaves. Toss until the leaves are tender and almost cooked through. Squeeze in lemon juice just before removing. Set aside, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes over the top.


2 4-ounce cartons of crimini or baby bella mushrooms (quartered)
4 tablespoons cold butter
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet to Medium-High. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan and let melt completely. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. It’s very important not to move them around for the first few minutes so they can develop texture and color. After they’ve cooked 3-4 minutes, sauté until mushrooms are completely cooked through and a deep golden brown. Finish by adding remaining butter and a final seasoning of salt and pepper to taste.


I seem to find little bits of inspiration at the various restaurants I seek out. It’s easy to take these ideas home with you and adapt them to your own personal style, if you think about the basic mechanics of the flavors presented. I needed something that resembled mayo but in no way tasted of the sort. It should also be noted pine nuts are not nuts; they’re seeds.
If you have nut allergies, have no worries. Just check the labels to be certain they weren’t processed in a facility that intermingles their nuts with seeds. You can use pine nuts in their raw state or lightly toast them in a pan to add depth. Be careful, though. Pine nuts burn as fast as you can take your eyes off those little expensive and indulgent darlings. Start by making a small batch, as a little goes farther than you might think.
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend on High until smooth. Place in a sealed jar or container. Refrigerate after use. Can be stored for only a few weeks, as pine nuts turn faster than other nut butters.

As an added optional condiment:

1 medium red onion (sliced paper thin)
1/2 cup malt or red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 garlic cloves (smashed)
5 black peppercorns or 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Optional: 5 dried juniper berries, 1 sprig rosemary
Place onions in a glass jar until it fills up to the top. In a small saucepan, place salt, sugar, garlic, and spices along with vinegar and simmer until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over onions. Cover any remaining space with tepid water. Close tight with a lid and shake so that the liquids incorporate. Chill for at least one hour before serving. After serving, refrigerate pickles immediately. Will keep up to one month if sealed tightly.