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Friday, December 10, 2010

Hamburger Croquettes


Having not felt well all week, I wasn't in any great rush to get to the store for a missing recipe ingredient. That meant a pound of ground beef in my freezer with no designs on it. But without haste, I pulled a French recipe from my folder I've been wanting to try.

Backing up, I just finished the book On Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann Loomis. It's a cooking memoir, one of my favorite genres. In this book, Loomis describes how she and her husband set up a nearly-dilapidated home in the Normandy section of France. I drooled equally over the potential they saw in the ancient house they purchase as I did over the recipes she includes. The hamburger croquettes is not one of them, but the mad Googling frenzy for new, easy French recipes was inspired by the book.

The recipes I found, which I changed a bit to add what I felt was a more French feel to it, made me wonder if I would end up with a fancy hamburger or something entirely different. So what was to be a Mexican-inspired meal became this.

Hamburger Croquettes

1 lb ground beef
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 shallot, minced
4 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
4 tbsp butter, divided
Breadcrumbs for dredging

1. Melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat then add shallot. Cook until translucent but not browned. Set aside to slightly cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix beef, tarragon, salt, pepper, egg, breadcrumbs and cooled shallot. Form the beef into 4 oval patties, then dredge them in breadcrumbs. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet; add patties and sauté for 5 minutes on each side, until desired doneness. Serve hot.

The Verdict: It was neither a regular hamburger, nor a French dining experience you'll find yourself instantaneously enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu after preparing, either. But it was easy and tasty.

One of the original recipes called for thyme instead of tarragon; I think next time around I would add both as the flavor was a little mild. I did enjoy the texture, however. The lightly breaded, crispy crumb outer covering added a nice feel, as well as sealed in the juices nicely. My husband didn't necessarily agree. When I asked, "So what did you think about dinner?" he asked in return, "What was special about it?" When I explained that, for one, the burgers had been breaded, his answer was, "I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but I just thought you'd burned it and that's what gave it that texture." To each his own.

My son didn't think it was burned, or at least I don't think he cared if they were. He happily scarfed down an entire croquette on his own. He also ate a number of the glazed carrots I made to accompany the dish. The recipe for these glazed carrots is a little different than the one I'd added a while back. It used less butter which maybe is a good thing, but I still like the first recipe best. So we won't mess with a good thing there.

I recommend this recipe for a night that you're staring at a package of ground beef with no inspiration. As for adding it into the regular rotation, you can probably find other hamburger favorites that will trump this one.

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