My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week 13 - Barbecue Burgers

Boy am I sure excited about this weekend! There are basically two games that I think will have tremendous impact on the national scale for two different reasons.

The first game is Texas A&M at LSU. LSU got A&M last year at home, and I’m sure they’ll be hungry for revenge. Baton Rouge is one of the hardest places to play, and I don’t think A&M has been anywhere like this. Johnny Manziel still has a chance to win a second Heisman, and this is a huge opportunity for him to make a case for himself. This one is a toss up for me. LSU has fallen somewhat short of expectations this year (but somehow remain in the AP  top 20 with 3 losses), and I suppose depending on who you talk to - and their degrees of separation from TAMU - one could say the same for Texas A&M. I actually had this circled as a loss for the Aggies a few weeks back before the Auburn game. That Aggie defense is certainly atrocious, and it is not going to be a friendly environment for them, but at the end of the day, I don't know if LSU is really that good. Despite being 4 point underdogs on the road, I’m taking the flying Johnnys.
The other big game is the de facto Big XII championship – Baylor heading up north to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. It’s going to be a great atmosphere up there in Stillwater. I have been back and forth on this one, too. Baylor has looked unbeatable at times. I was joking with a friend how sometimes this time of year you see scores coming across the screen and you see some crazy numbers and do a double take – only to realize it’s a college basketball score because they've now started, too! Well, with this Baylor team, you really can’t tell their football scores from their basketball scores sometimes. They’ve been tested with a somewhat nail biter at Kansas State, and recently having to come from behind versus Texas Tech and Oklahoma. It’s tough to go against a team scoring 60 points a game. But I also know that when you’re on a streak like this each game gets harder and harder as the pressure mounts each week. Baylor isn’t used to being in this position and Oklahoma St. is the best team they have faced all year. So as much as I would like for them to win, I think Mike Gundy is going to drop it like its hot after this one. I’m taking the Pokes.

Finally, I am going to go out on a limb and boldly proclaim that Ole Miss will pick off the surprising Missouri Tigers this weekend. I love what's going on at Mizzou this year and frankly, Texas A&M and Missouri have both surprised me by how competitive they've been in the conference. QB Franklin returns for Missouri, but I think this could have the potential to throw off their timing a little bit – at least in the beginning of the game. Ole Miss is not a bad team at all, and I think they’re good enough to shock the Tigers in Oxford.

With a slate of games like this, somebody has got to be planning to make some burgers, right? I should be ashamed of myself for going 12 weeks writing a football/food blog and not sharing a recipe for the quintessential game day food. Well I’m here to make amends. This is super easy and the only way I make burgers.

Barbecue Burgers - adapted from Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue

Start out with a pound and half of ground beef. Mix ingredients in one at a time (with your HANDS please!) without overworking the mix. Add breadcrumbs:  

Add a barbecue sauce of your choice. I usually use KC Masterpiece which is perfect for these burgers. It gives a smoky/barbecue flavor without being overly sweet or tart. Skip the Kraft.

Add mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, pepper and seasoning salt (Tony's or Lawry's is good):

 And one egg to help bind the mixture:

Now make the patties. 1.5 lbs of beef should make about 5 - 6 decent sized burgers:

So how you cook these is up to you. Fire up your skillet or grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your patty. I like to brush with just a bit of oil before putting on the heat. Your fire should be fairly hot and of course you'll hear that lovely sizzle when it hits the heat. This week, I did mine on an indoor grill top.

After about 2-3 minutes, brush the uncooked side with a little more oil, cook a little while longer and then flip. DO. NOT. PRESS. those burgers with your spatula!

About another 3-5 minutes, depending how well done you like your burgers, and pull those bad boys off! Let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

And of course dress your burger however you eat them! What's so special about these is the different flavors you can come up with just by using a different kind of barbecue sauce. I personally think KC is the best for this particular recipe, but it's always fun to experiment with others. Certain barbecue sauces can actually make the burger still taste grilled, even if you cook it indoors!

So the final verdict:

I hope you get to enjoy some great burgers on this FINE college football Saturday - have a great week!

Barbecue Burgers

adapted from Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue

1 ½ lbs ground chuck
½ C fine breadcrumbs
¼ C KC Masterpiece (or other barbecue sauce)
1 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp mustard
1 Tsp seasoned salt
1 Tsp ground pepper

1)Mix beef, breadcrumbs, sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl with your hands.

2)Form 5-6 patties. Make sure to make a slight depression in the middle with your thumb so burgers don't swell in the middle.

3)Grill or pan fry on medium high heat, cooking around 4-5 minutes per side to your desired doneness.

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