I've been trying to get into the habit of meal planning for years now. I know how to go about it, so that's not the problem. The issue is forcing myself to make the time to sit down and go through my cookbooks and magazines to decide on recipes and make a grocery list. I've been getting better - meaning maybe 2 weeks a month I'm able to make it happen. When I do, I realize how awesome it is and wonder why it's such a struggle to do it more often! I save so much time at the grocery store when I have a list and I'm not just wandering the aisles trying to come up with meal ideas on the spot. Plus, I'm saving money since I have a plan for every ingredient I buy and throw away far less food. The real benefit, though, at least for me, is that dinners are much less stressful when I wake up knowing what we're having that night as opposed to scrambling to put something together at the last minute.
If you asked Shane, these burgers would probably be the best thing to come from my recent meal planning efforts. We cooked them earlier this week, darting in and out to the grill between rain showers that were passing through the area. Minced bacon is incorporated into the burger patties themselves, making them juicy and rich. Served on homemade rolls with grilled zucchini on the side, they was an awesome meal. As much as I enjoyed the burgers, the real star of the show for me was the bacon onion balsamic jam. It was the perfect combination of savory and sweet and I'm already thinking of other ways I could use it! These burgers are pretty giant (more than 1/3 lb each before cooking) and I couldn't finish mine, so the only change I'll make next time is to divide the meat mixture into a few more, slightly smaller patties.
Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
from Fine Cooking
Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
4 thick slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 thick slices bacon
1 1/2 lb 85% lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns (I made mine with this recipe)
To make the jam: Cook the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat until browned but not yet crisp, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
With the heat still on medium, add the onions to the pan with the bacon grease. Season with kosher salt and pepper then cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the cover, add a splash of water and use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the skillet. Replace the cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 7-10 minutes, or until the onions are softened and just starting to take on some color. Add the vinegar, mustard, 1/3 cup water and the bacon to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue cooking until the liquid has thickened and been mostly absorbed, about 2-4 minutes.
(You can make the jam up to 2 days ahead - store in the refrigerator and reheat gently before serving.)
To make the burgers: Mince the bacon with a sharp knife. In a large bowl, combine the bacon, ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Gently mix until combined, but don't overwork. Divide into 4 equal portions, and form each portion into a burger, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each patty (this will keep the burgers from puffing and swelling in the center as they cook).
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450 F). Oil the grates lightly (I use the tongs to hold a paper towel that's been dipped in oil and rub it over the grates). Place the burgers on the grill (the side with the indentation should be facing up) and cook for about 4 minutes, or until grill marks form on the bottom. Flip the burgers and cook for about 4 more minutes (for medium), or until they are cooked to your desired doneness.
Grill the rolls lightly, if desired, then serve the burgers on the rolls topped with the jam.
Makes 4 burgers