This Labor Day weekend, celebrate the end of summer with a backyard BBQ. Labor Day pays tribute to American workers, but with my menu ideas, you won't have to work too hard. Instead, you can crack open an ice-cold drink, kick back and relax with your friends and family.
My Chipotle Burgers with Avocado Crema are significantly leaner than traditional burgers but are packed with flavor. Most restaurants use ground beef with a higher fat content (typically around 20% fat) to guarantee juicy burgers. I use lean ground beef (7% fat) to cut down on fat but because they're so lean, I like to infuse my burgers with other flavorful ingredients like onion, garlic and smoky chipotles in adobo. The onion also adds moisture to the patties and keeps them juicy. I use a box grater or microplane zester to grate the onion and garlic so that they get distributed evenly throughout the meat. To complement the spicy patties, I top my burgers with a cooling avocado crema. Mexican crema is similar to sour cream but instead of sour cream, I use nonfat Greek yogurt, which has a creamy texture and tangy flavor that pairs nicely with the avocado. The healthy unsaturated fats found in avocado are a good replacement for the saturated fat found in condiments like mayonnaise.
Here are some tips for making the perfect burgers:
- Be careful not to overwork the meat when making the patties otherwise the burgers will be tough.
- Make an indentation in the center of the patties so that they cook evenly. Otherwise the burgers will puff up in the middle.
- Heat your grill to medium high and brush the grill rack with oil to prevent sticking. You want relatively high heat to get a good sear on the burgers and lock in the juices.
- Once the burgers are on the grill, don't touch them until you're ready to flip them! Definitely don't press down on them otherwise all of the juices will run out.
- Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side and add the cheese during the last minute or two so that it melts. Remove the burgers and let them rest before serving. I also like to toast the buns lightly on the grill for a minute or two before serving. Who wants to eat a hot burger on a cold bun?
Chipotle Burgers with Avocado Crema
Makes 4 burgers
1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo + 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 Haas avocado
2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for brushing the grill rack
2 ounces reduced fat cheddar cheese (like Cabot brand), shredded
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
1 tomato, sliced
Preheat grill to medium high heat.
Mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper together. Be careful not to overwork the meat. Form into patties, making an indentation in the center of each burger so that they will cook evenly.
Mix all of the avocado crema ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the burger patties on the rack and cook 4-5 minutes on each side for medium. Place the cheese on the patties during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last minute of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, place a cheese-topped patty on each bun bottom and top with a slice of tomato and ¼ of the avocado crema. Add bun tops and serve.
One burger: Calories 401; Fat 18.3g; (Sat 5.8g); Protein 32.9g; Carb 26g; Fiber 5.4g
My Sautéed Summer Corn is the perfect accompaniment to the burgers and features sweet corn, a summer favorite.
Sautéed Summer Corn
Makes 4 servings
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ears corn, kernels cut off
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers, drained
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked but still crunchy, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the peppers, cumin and cilantro and cook another minute or two until all the ingredients are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
One serving: Calories 110; Fat 3.5g; (Sat 0.7g); Protein 3.5g; Carb 20g; Fiber 2.2g