BEEF BURGERS WITH AVOCADO AND BACON (California, for four)
1-½ pounds 100% ground chuck (about 80% lean)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
vegetable oil for grill rack
4 whole-grain hard rolls, lightly toasted
1 ripe Haas avocado
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt to taste
4 thick tomato slices
8 slices crisp cooked bacon (optional)
4 lettuce leaves
1. Break up chuck to increase surface area for seasoning. Sprinkle salt and pepper over meat and toss lightly with hands to distribute. Divide meat into 4 equal portions (6 ounces each). With cupped hands, toss one portion back and forth to form a loose ball. Pat lightly to flatten meat into a ¾ inch thick burger that measures about 4-1/2 inches across. (Do not over-handle meat or your burger will be tough). Pressing down with your thumb, or with the back of a measuring spoon, make a ¼ inch depression in the center of each patty, creating a shallow well. (This makes them come out flat, not puffed in the center). Repeat with remaining portions of meat.
2. Saute bacon slices until browned and crisp.
3. Heat a well-seasoned large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat until it is hot, sprinkle it evenly with coarse salt, and when the skillet is hot enough that the salt begins to color slightly, add the patties. For medium rare burgers, cook for 4 minutes on one side, flip the burgers over and cook for 4 minutes on the other side.
4. Halve and pit the avocado and in a small bowl mash it with mayonnaise, fresh lime juice and salt to taste. Put the cooked hamburgers on the bottom halves of the rolls and top each with some of the avocado mixture, a slice of tomato, some alfalfa sprouts, two slices bacon (optional) and a lettuce leaf. Top the burgers with the top half of the rolls.