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Grilling with the greats: Denny Morrison

Posted on June 9, 2011 at 6:42 PM

By Jan Zeschky, The Province- June 8, 2011


'If I’ve been on the road for several weeks, I can’t wait to have any homemade food. But particularly homemade hamburgers – that’s one of my favourite meals,” says Denny Morrison, who shares his homemade burger recipe. Photograph by: Harry E. Walker, MCT

Long-track speed skater Denny Morrison first pulled on a pair of skates at just three years of age. Since then, the Fort St. John native has gone on to a remarkable career that reached a new peak last year in Vancouver with an Olympic gold medal in the men’s team pursuit. A former world champion and record holder in the 1,500-metres discipline, Morrison, now 25, also competes in the 500-m, 1,000-m and 5,000-m long track.

Morrison is waxing lyrical about one of his passions.

“It’s sort of like riding a bike, you can’t do it with training wheels all the time. You’ve got to just ride the bike. You can’t be afraid to crash once in a while, you’ve got to learn along the way. It’s all experience, you know? It’s all about feel. One day you’re going to catch on and you’re just going to know. It feels right.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking Morrison is talking about his lifelong love, skating.

But no, this almost mystical spiel is all about the trials of working the grill, an activity Morrison loves when the warmer months roll around.

“When you’re training as much as we do, it’s a fine way to relax and enjoy being at home. Grilling on a hot sunny day is always a nice thing to do,” says Morrison, who currently lives and trains in Calgary.

“It’s a great way to get some friends together. . . There’s nothing like the smell of barbecue, you know?”

Morrison often ceded cooking duties to his foodie brother, fellow speed skater Jay, when they lived together, but found grilling was a way to give his elder sibling an evening off. He’s since refined his technique but his grill favourite, burgers, hasn’t changed.

“If I’ve been on the road for several weeks, I can’t wait to have any homemade food. But particularly homemade hamburgers – that’s one of my favourite meals,” says Morrison.

But any red meat is good for recovering from training, particularly the intense workouts in the summer months – and that’s just fine by Morrison.

“There are benefits to doing ridiculous amounts of training during the summer time,” admits Morrison, whose annual regime allows just a six-to-eight week break in the spring, when “I’ll have the extra hamburger . . . maybe put the extra stick of butter on my steak.”

“We do tons of volume, hours and hours on the bike in July and August, and those are the best times for barbecuing . . . and you know,” he adds slyly, “you need to refuel your body somehow. Got to get the calories in one way or another.”

THE MORRISON BURGER

Morrison advises using lean or extra lean beef as fattier meat can drip, causing flames, which can burn the meat. Also, avoid barbecue sauce as the sugars in these can also burn.

When making the patty, make the centre thinner than the edges as the centre will always expand more when cooking.

“I’ve done a lot of experimenting with hamburgers,” admits Morrison. Even though he cooks a lot “by feel,” the Olympian compiled the following recipe, which makes eight of his signature burgers.

For the patties:

1 lb. of lean or extra lean ground beef

3 handfuls of quick oats

1 egg

1 “sploosh” of milk

1 tsp. minced garlic

3-5 mushrooms, finely diced

1-2 jalapeño chilis, finely diced

6-9 splashes Worcestershire sauce

2-5 splashes hot sauce

1 tsp. each ground cayenne, oregano and thyme ½ tsp. each basil and sage

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. chili powder

8 bread rolls of your choice

8 slices of cheese of your choice

1 large white onion, cut into rings

2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into slices

2 ripe avocados

Ketchup, mustard and relish

Head of romaine lettuce

Mix well all ingredients for the patties. Separate into 8 round patties.

Grill at 375-450 F (or medium-high) for about 6 minutes. Flip and grill opposite side for about 6 minutes Flip again and add slice of cheese per patty. Move all burgers to side of grill, but keep a burner on maximum and close lid for 6 mins. Remove from grill.

Decorate bottom of halved bread roll first: Add 1 layer of relish, then 4-6 rings of onion and 3-4 strips of thinly sliced avocado.

Place patty onto bottom bun, cheese side down. Top with ketchup and mustard smiley faces, one 1/8-in. slice of tomato, and 3-6 leaves of lettuce.

Place top of bun gently onto lettuce stack, being careful not to spoil burger via tippage. Place palm of hand firmly on top of burger and in a smooth, gentle, but forceful motion, compress burger to half original height. Serve.

© Copyright (c) The Province

 


 



 

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