An Impromptu Cookout

July 08, 2014

This past weekend was a nice long one with some unanticipated downtime. Time to hold an impromptu Sunday night cookout!

We weren't sure how many guests were coming; it looked like a few teenage boys might show up, along with neighbors and friends returning from the Cape, the Vineyard, and Rhode Island. What to cook? Nothing too fancy, something easy to prepare in advance, a little more on the plant-based side of things -- and something to keep on hand as friends came throughout the evening. 

I'd been mulling over making Beanie Burgers since they have been a topic of dicussion here at ChopChop as we finalize ChopChop Cooking Lab's pilot sessions (which you can read about here and here). Friend of ChopChop Mark Bittman (whose shared mantra is "cook real food") sparked a thought: this Sunday's New York Times Magazine featured a Bittman spread with a super wide variety of yes, delicious-looking burgers! An idea was born -- a Burger Bar (beanie, beef, and fish) and beverages on the porch. Here's what I did to pull this together: 

  1. I made a quick trip to pick up some Atlantic salmon fillets and ground beef, and scoured the pantry and found a boatload of pinto beans to soak overnight. We also found some sheets of Nori (sushi wrapping) in the cabinet, a few very ripe avocados on the counter, and scallions and leftover brown rice in the fridge.
  2. Preparation was a snap. The food processor we bought earlier this year did a fast number on the salmon, the basil (for a simple pesto for a tomato/fresh peas/pasta salad) and red and green cabbage (for Bittman's coleslaw).
  3. I prepared the patties in advance, saved some in the freezer for later, and even found time to read an entertaining novel beforehand! 

The Beanie Burger-inspired party was a resounding success! All the guests, including the teenage boys, devoured the well-done burgers of all kinds. We threw the football around, kicked a soccer ball, and tried out skateboards. A neighbor brought over beverages for adults. People spilled out of cars, with kids, ice cream, and a dog. All converging on our porch to savor a fine early summer evening.

- Cathy Chute, Publishing Director

(Salmon Burger photo credit: Sam Kaplan for The New York Times)

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