Book Review – Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries

flay cover resized

Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes  Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas & Sally Jackson  Photographs by Ben Fink  Clarkson Potter Publishers 2009

 Has anyone considered re-naming the Food Network the Bobby Flay Channel?  Currently airing shows include: Iron Chef America, Boy Meets Grill, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, The Next Food Network Star and Grill It with Bobby Flay.  When Mr. Flay is not appearing on the Food Network he can be found on TV as the Food Correspondent for The Early Show on CBS, creating new dishes for his growing restaurant empire or writing another book (this is his ninth).

 The book opens with an excellent primer covering all the burger knowledge essentials that a home cook needs to turn out juicy burgers.  According to Bobby, to create the perfect burger, you need to start with 80% lean 20% fat fresh ground chuck and then season with just salt and pepper.  If you are tempted to add breadcrumbs, fillers, egg, spices or herbs then the result is a meatloaf and not a burger.  The meat should be handled as little as possible and not over-compressed when the patty is formed, so as to avoid becoming dry and tough when grilled.  When grilling sometimes you see burgers that have blown up so as to resemble baseballs rather then burgers.  The solution to the ball-of-meat problem is to put a large dimple or depression in the center of the patty when forming a burger, this helps to ensure a moist, juicy burger.  The bun should be soft, without becoming squishy, while also being strong enough to support a juicy burger with all the toppings.

 Once you have created the perfect burger it is time to go wild with the toppings.  At Bobby’s Burger Palace, Flay’s new chain of burger joints, the list of available topping reads like the inventory of an entire ethnic grocery store.  The Bolo Burger combines a smoky paprika aioli with Marengo cheese and sliced Serrano ham.  The Carolina Burger is topped with a spicy Mustard Barbeque Sauce and creamy Green Onion Slaw.  A favorite is The Cheyenne Burger which layers smoked cheddar, spicy barbeque sauce and crispy fried onion rings.  One of the secrets to making a great burger is the quality of the toppings, if you start with average ingredients you end up with an average burger.

 There is an entire chapter covering French Fries, Chips and Onion Rings.  Combine seven recipes for fried potatoes, two styles of crispy onion rings with home made chips and you have increased the WOW factor exponentially.  For the Grilled Steak Fries Bobby leaves the skin on the potatoes so they don’t fall apart while being grilled to a golden brown.  In the Beer-Battered Onion Rings the beer acts as a leavening agent which yields a tender, delicious skin covering sweet onions.

 Don’t be tempted to skip the chapter covering Condiments and Seasonings, this is not filler or an afterthought.  The recipes in this chapter are those little extras that transform the burgers and fries from the mundane to the spectacular.  The Chipotle Ketchup, with just a few tweaks to store bought ketchup, produces a smoky condiment that is fast and easy to stir together.  The Cuban Seasoning and Southwestern Seasoning, while great on fries, will find themselves being used to season other types of food, such as grilled fish and chicken.

 A book that is titled Burgers, Fries & Shakes would be incomplete without a chapter covering milkshakes.  The recipes for 17 different kinds of shakes plus toppings will have you smiling and the family arguing over which to make first.  Warm chocolate is drizzled into the Banana-Milk Chocolate Crackle Milkshake, which leaves thin strings of hardened chocolate throughout the shake.  Combining heavy cream, Marshmallow Fluff, cream of coconut, milk, chocolate syrup and premium chocolate ice cream is then layered to make the Dark Chocolate Milkshake with “Fluffy” Coconut Cream.

 This book would be a welcome addition to any carnivore’s library.  The recipes are easy to make even with minimal kitchen skills. This is one of those rare cookbooks where any home cook can produce a dish that looks exactly like the photo in the book.

Peanut Butter Banana Marshmallow Shake

Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries  Clarkson Potter Publishers c 2009
1/2 cup whole milk
1 medium overly ripe banana (should have black speckles), peeled and quartered
3 heaping tablespoons creamy peanut butter (do not use natural)
3 heaping tablespoons Marshmallow Fluff
10 ounces premium vanilla ice cream (about 1 2/3 packed cups)
Combine milk, banana, peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff in a blender and blend until combined, about 7 seconds.
Add the ice cream and blend until smooth, about 10 seconds.
Serve immediately.

Printable recipe





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