The queen of the 30-minute meal would like to direct attention to her buns.
Here we have a Sicilian-style tuna burger, with tomatoes and capers on ciabatta. A portobello mushroom burger with spinach pesto. A decadent French-onion-dip beef burger, stacked with potato chips and pickles, that is, in a word, yum.
In “The Book of Burger” (Atria, $24.99), TV food star Rachael Ray’s newest addition to her ever-expanding list of cookbooks, almost 200 creative recipes for burgers and sandwiches, plus hot dogs, sloppies, fries and sides celebrate the mass appeal of all things bunned.
“I’ve been obsessed with burgers for a long time because I love what burgers say to people,” Ray, 43, said. “Everyone is included, you’re never intimidated to pick up a burger.”
Ray — whose next book, “My Year in Meals,” a collaboration with her husband, John Cusimano, who was responsible for the cocktails, comes out in November — got the most media coverage of any food personality of 2011, an analysis showed, so it’s hard to find a question she hasn’t already been asked.
We tried anyway.
Q: What is your greatest attribute?
A: A sense of humor. I try not to take myself or anyone else, or certainly my food, too seriously.
Q: What is your greatest fault?
A: Lack of patience. Just in general, I want to do 10 things at once, I can’t focus on just one thing. I don’t think anyone can do their best work if they’re not focused. Though certainly it also helped in my career; an impatient person created 30-minute meals.
Q: What is your greatest possession?
A: I don’t care too much about things. I think that the things I care about most in my life are my family, my husband and my dog.
Q: What’s the best lesson you learned from your mother or father?
A: I’ve learned so much. But my favorite lesson from my mom I think is that in life there really is only one choice: You can laugh, or you can cry. My mom also taught me a work ethic, she showed me by example and lesson after lesson that you should work harder than the next person and never complain about it. Work is a privilege that not everyone has.
Q: What is your one secret to success?
A: Work harder than the next person, don’t complain about it. And you have to be a visionary. You can’t be all things to all people, so don’t try. Figure out who you are and stick to that one thing.
Q: What was your proudest moment?
A: The day we launched our charity (Yum-O! Foundation, which aims to eradicate hunger and childhood obesity) with President Clinton on our daytime show. My mom was there. I think she hair-flipped for the president.
Q: What do you consider your biggest mistake?
A: I’m not a believer in mistakes — I think everything happens for a reason. Even the bad stuff, I’m still thankful for it. I like mistakes, so it’s hard for me to judge that.
Q: So then what was your favorite mistake?
A: That’s a good one. Moving out of New York City (where she lived in her 20s, working first at the Macy’s candy counter and later as manager and buyer for a gourmet marketplace) to go back to upstate New York. I thought it was a terrible mistake at the time career-wise. But if I had not moved back to the country, who knows what would have happened, because that’s where I started doing 30-minute meals.
Q: What would you request as your last meal?
A: I would never want to know that! If I knew it was my last meal, I’m not hungry, I’m crying. … But if I had to say, spaghetti with lots of anchovies and garlic and oil.
Q: How do you decompress?
A: I cook.
Q: What’s your greatest pet peeve?
A: Willful ignorance.
Q: What’s your best diet or fitness tip?
A: Running. And eating a largely Mediterranean diet and eating real foods.
French Dip Onion Burgers
Prep: 20 minutes. Cook: 45 minutes. Makes: 6 servings
From “The Book of Burger,” by Rachael Ray. The sauce makes about 2 ¼ cups; use any extra as a dip.
3 tablespoons butter
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
½-¾ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme
1 cup beef consomme
1½ cups sour cream
2 pounds ground beef chuck
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
3-4 tablespoons grated onion
A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 brioche rolls, split
36 good-quality ridged or thick-cut potato chips, preferably cooked in olive oil
Sliced sweet pickles
1. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and bay leaf; season with ¼- ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deep caramel in color and very soft, 35 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beef consomme; cook until the liquid is almost absorbed. Let cool; discard the bay leaf. Stir onions and sour cream together in a small bowl; adjust seasoning.
2. Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, combine the beef, Worcestershire sauce, grated onion (grate it right over the bowl so the juices fall into the meat) and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Score the mixture into 6 equal portions. Form them into patties, slightly thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking. Drizzle with EVOO. Cook the burgers, flipping once, 10 minutes for medium.
3. Serve on the roll bottoms; top with a few layers of onion dip, potato chips, a couple of pickles each and the roll tops.
Nutrition information per serving (with 2 tablespoons sauce): 528 calories, 28 grams fat, 10 g saturated fat, 125 milligrams cholesterol, 35 g carbohydrates, 34 g protein, 636 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
©2012 Chicago Tribune
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