You know the hype: summer is here and the livin’ is easy. You’ve seen all those ads and magazine photo spreads showing groups of impeccably groomed, happy people enjoying drinks and food provided by positively glowing hosts on patios, at the beach, at picnics with no ants. Well, the season is short and glorious and I love it as much as the next person, but all that summer entertaining is anything but effortless. There are, however, strategies you can use to make it much easier so that you’ll enjoy the event as much as your guests.
One of the things that I like to do to create that easy-living summer sensibility is prepare and freeze large batches of some of our favourite summer barbecue foods. It makes entertaining, whether planned or spontaneous, so much easier. Of course, this strategy isn’t just for entertaining. I’ll be taking some pre-made frozen burgers to the cottage this summer, and using them at home for lazy-dinner days the rest of the time.
Last week I made a large batch of burgers (20 4-1/4 oz beauties), froze them, and bagged them in typical meal portion sizes. My son, who recently bought a barbecue of his own, was the lucky recipient of half the batch (yes, I’m a good Mum) and the rest are for us. I made these using ground beef, and next time I’ll make my Mar’s Burgers from a ground chicken/turkey combo that we particularly enjoy. With a quick defrosting in the microwave or longer in the refridgerator, the patties will be ready for the grill. So easy, particularly when the weather is perfect and I want to spend as much time as possible outside. I also like to prepare ribs ahead of time and freeze them, but I’ll save that for another post.
With the meat taken care of in advance, that’s that much less time you need to spend preparing for your summer entertaining. And hey, if you make it a potluck, your guests can bring the rest!
Tasty Beef Burgers
A pound of lean ground beef will yield 4 burgers of approximately 4-ounces. (I don’t use extra-lean because a good burger needs at least a little fat.) You can multiply this recipe according to your needs.
For each pound of beef, add 1 egg, about 3 tablespoons ketchup, 2 cloves garlic minced, half a red chile pepper seeded and minced, 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, several leaves of fresh sage finely chopped and several shakes of Worcestershire sauce. I also add freshly ground pepper. If you want to add salt that’s up to you, but I don’t. Mix with a large serving fork just until everything is incorporated so you don’t toughen the burgers. (Some people like to use their hands, but personally I’m just not into that). Form the burgers into evenly sized firm patties. I’ve found that using a scale helps ensure patties of uniform size, but you can do this by eye too. Place the patties on a parchment paper-lined baking tray, and put into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, transfer to freezer bags and seal, either in smaller portion bags or in one large bag. I like to use my supply up within two months.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be making some food ahead and storing it in the freezer, to help ensure that my summer cooking is as effortless as possible. This way I can spend more time enjoying my other favourite pastime at my favourite place!