Ben Ford Recipes

Posted on Jun 13, 2014 08:00am

Chef Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA joins the ladies in the The Talk kitchen to share a delicious meal for Father’s Day weekend!


Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Feeds 80 or More


40 pounds GROUND BEEF

160 slices good CHEDDAR OR JACK CHEESE (about 10 pounds) Eighty ¼-inch TOMATO slices ( from 10 to 15 big red tomatoes)

80 big ICEBERG LETTUCE leaves ( from about 6 heads)

320 DILL PICKLE chips (about 3 quarts)

20 AVOCADOS, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced ¼ inch thick 8 recipes


KOSHER SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER

80 quality sesame seed HAMBURGER BUNS

2½ pounds BUTTER, melted, for brushing on the buns


Separate the meat into 4-ounce portions and roll each portion into a ball, like cookie dough.

Gently pat the balls into patties ¼ inch thick; you want to flatten the patties without beating up the meat. Stack the patties on large baking sheets. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s time to grill.

Fire up a charcoal grill following the instructions in Cooking with Charcoal (page 8), or fire up a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot.

While the grill heats, get all your burger fixings ready: cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, avocados, and sauce. Set them up on a station near your grill along with bowls of salt and pepper.

Brush the cut sides of the buns lightly with butter. Put the buns cut side down on the grill to toast them lightly. Transfer the toasted buns to a big roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan. Tent with foil to keep the buns warm while you grill the patties. (You could also toast the buns in the spaces between the patties while you grill the patties.)

Place the burger patties on the grill, seasoning them lightly on both sides with salt and pepper as you go. Cook the patties for 2 minutes. Turn the patties and put a slice of cheese on each one. Close the grill if it has a lid, and cook the patties for another 2 minutes until they’re done.

To dress the burgers, coat the toasted sides of the buns with sauce. Layer the burger like this: bottom bun, 1 lettuce leaf, 4 pickle chips, 2 patties, 1 tomato slice, and enough slices to equal one-quarter of an avocado. Spoon a little more sauce over the avocado and close the burger. Wrap the burger in paper, if you have it. Stack the burgers on a platter, no higher than two burgers, and put them out on the buffet for the crowds to dig in. Voilà! The perfect burger of any childhood.


“Fat Jack’s” Burgers: The Indoor Version

The Fat Jack’s burger was cooked on a griddle, not a grill. If you don't have a griddle, use a cast-iron skillet for the same result. 

Prepare the burger patties and fixings as described above. 

Preheat the broiler. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Make sure the exhaust fan is on, as it will get hot and greasy. 

Put as many patties in the skillet as you can fit snugly in a single layer, seasoning them with salt and pepper on both sides first. Cook the patties for 2 minutes. Flip, lay a slice of cheese on each patty, and cook for 2 minutes more.

When the burgers are almost done, brush the cut sides of the buns with butter and put them under the broiler, buttered side up, to toast until golden brown. Assemble the burgers the same as above.


Grilled Beer-Braised Bratwursts
All Recipes Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.  

Feeds 8


4 tablespoons (. stick) UNSALTED BUTTER, plus 8 tablespoons (1 stick), melted, for brushing on the buns

4 GARLIC CLOVES, minced or grated


¼ cup packed light or dark BROWN SUGAR

½ teaspoon CARAWAY SEEDS

Freshly ground BLACK PEPPER

8 WISCONSIN-STYLE BRATS or storebought bratwursts (5 to 6 ounces each), pricked with a fork in several places

Four 12-ounce bottles BEER, or as needed

1 cup SEMI-HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT or store-bought sauerkraut

8 quality HOT DOG BUNS

MUSTARD, for serving


Fire up a charcoal grill following the instructions in Cooking with Charcoal (page 8), or fire up a gas grill to high heat with the lid closed to help it get nice and hot. 

Put a Dutch oven or another medium pot on a corner of the grill or on the stovetop over medium heat. Put in the butter, garlic, and cayenne and cook for about a minute, stirring so the garlic doesn’t brown. Stir in the brown sugar, caraway seeds, and 6 to 7 turns of black pepper. Add the brats and enough beer to cover the brats by 1 to 2 inches. Bring the beer to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the kraut, including the liquid it’s packed in, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the bratwursts are cooked through; they will have expanded and the meat will be tight in its casing. The brats are now ready to be eaten, but you can keep them in the liquid until you’re ready to grill and serve them.

Brush the cut sides of the buns lightly with melted butter. Put the buns cut side down on the grill to toast until golden brown. Transfer the toasted buns to a roasting pan or disposable aluminum pan and tent with foil to keep warm.

Use tongs to lift the brats out of the liquid. Grill them, turning them as necessary, until they have crusty bark on the outside, about 10 minutes. Serve the brats on the toasted buns with mustard and a heap of the sauerkraut on top.


String Bean and Potato Salad
Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Feeds 8 to 10


½ cup MAYONNAISE (see below) or store-bought mayonnaise


2 tablespoons WHITE WINE VINEGAR or apple cider vinegar


1 teaspoon KOSHER SALT, plus more for the boiling water and to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground BLACK PEPPER, plus more to taste

¼ cup finely chopped fresh FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY  LEAVES

6 SCALLIONS (white and light green parts), thinly sliced on the bias

¼ cup large shards semi-dry domestic SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE or a medium-aged pecorino

1½ pounds FINGERLING POTATOES or other small, thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed

1 pound fresh GREEN BEANS, yellow wax beans, or a mix

EDIBLE FLOWERS, for garnish (optional)


Whisk the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in a medium bowl. Stir in the parsley, scallions, and cheese.

Put the potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Add 1 tablespoon salt per quart water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the potatoes until they’re tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly.

While the potatoes are still warm, slice them ¼ inch thick. Put the slices in a large bowl. While the potatoes are cooking, snip the ends off the beans. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Bring another pot of water to a  boil and salt it the same way you did for the potatoes. Add the beans and blanch them for  1 to 2 minutes, until they are just tender but still have some snap to them. Remove the beans and plunge them into the ice water to cool. (If you are using different types of beans, blanch them separately as cooking times will vary. Use a strainer to remove the beans from the water so you can reuse the water.)

Drain the beans and add to the potatoes. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat the beans and potatoes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if you want. If you like, garnish with edible flowers.


Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Makes about 1 cup


1 large EGG YOLK, at room temperature 1 teaspoon DIJON  MUSTARD

1 cup SAFFLOWER OIL (or another neutral-flavor oil) 1½ teaspoons fresh LEMON JUICE, plus more as needed


¼ teaspoon KOSHER SALT

¼ teaspoon ground WHITE PEPPER

¼ teaspoon SUGAR



Combine the egg yolk and mustard in a mini food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add a few drops of the oil and pulse to incorporate. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon water and pulse to incorporate. With the machine running, continue to add the oil in a very slow, steady stream, adding enough oil until the mayo is shiny and has a stiff, spoonable consistency. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar and pulse just to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, vinegar, salt, or sugar if needed. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until you need it.


Semi-Homemade Sauerkraut
Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Makes 1 quart, enough for 32 brats



2 teaspoons SUGAR

3 teaspoons KOSHER SALT

2 teaspoons MUSTARD SEEDS

2 teaspoons CARAWAY SEEDS



One 16-ounce bag SAUERKRAUT


Pour the boiling water into a bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve them. Stir in the mustard seeds, caraway seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Add the sauerkraut and stir to combine. Pack the seasoned sauerkraut in a 1-quart jar with as much liquid as will fit. Let it come to room temperature. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it, up to 2 weeks. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.


Not-a-Secret Burger Sauce
Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Makes about 1 ¼ cups, enough for 8 or more burgers


1 cup MAYONNAISE  (right; 1 recipe) or store-bought   mayonnaise

40 ¼ cup KETCHUP

2 tablespoons RED WINE VINEGAR or white vinegar

1 heaping tablespoon SWEET PICKLE RELISH


1 teaspoon freshly ground BLACK PEPPER

⅛ teaspoon KOSHER SALT

⅛ teaspoon GARLIC POWDER

⅛ teaspoon ONION POWDER


Stir everything together in a bowl. Taste and add more of any of the ingredients that you want to. Cover and refrigerate until the feast.



Trail Mix Cookie and Date Ice Cream Sandwiches
Copyright © by Ben Ford from TAMING THE FEAST published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Makes 8 sandwiches, with 2 extra cookies for the cook 

Ingredients for the Cookies:

2 cups old-fashioned ROLLED OATS

1⅔ cups unbleached all-purpose FLOUR

1 teaspoon KOSHER SALT

1 teaspoon BAKING SODA

½ teaspoon BAKING POWDER

1¾ cups packed dark BROWN SUGAR

½ pound (2 sticks) UNSALTED  BUTTER, softened 2 large EGGS, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure VANILLA EXTRACT

1 cup unsweetened COCONUT FLAKES (not desiccated; available at natural food stores and  online)

1 cup semisweet CHOCOLATE CHIPS (6-ounce bag)

1 cup roasted, salted SUNFLOWER SEEDS

¾ cup toasted WALNUTS (see Toasting Nuts below), finely chopped


Ingredients for the Ice Cream:


VANILLA ICE CREAM or store- bought vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

½ cup pitted fresh DATES (preferably Medjool), chopped


To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Beat the brown sugar and butter in a separate large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Stir in the coconut, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

Roll the dough into 2-ounce balls (about the size of Ping-Pong balls) and place them on the baking sheets, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time, until they are lightly browned around the edges but still slightly soft and pale in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. (They will finish cooking as they cool. If you cook them until they are brown throughout, they will be too crispy.)

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then slide the parchment onto cooling racks or a countertop. Line the baking sheets with clean parchment paper. Repeat baking the cookies in the same way until you’ve used all the dough.

Stir the dates into the softened ice cream. Freeze the ice cream to firm up until you assemble the ice cream sandwiches. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put it in the freezer.

To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, place 1 cookie bottom up in front of you. Using a ¼-cup measure or 2-ounce ice cream scoop, spoon ¼ cup of the ice cream onto the bottom of the cookie. Top the sandwich with a second cookie with the top of the cookie facing up and put in the freezer on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and cookies. Freeze the sandwiches for several hours, until the ice cream is firm. Transfer the sandwiches to an airtight container to store if you are making them any further in advance.


Toasting Nuts

I almost always toast nuts to bring out their natural flavor before using them. The key to toasting nuts is not to forget about them, so that they don’t burn. To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake them until they have a little color on them and just start to become fragrant. Shake the pan occasionally so the nuts toast evenly. The time varies depending on their size. Pine nuts take 6 to 8 minutes; walnuts and pecans, 8 to 10 minutes; and almonds and hazelnuts, 10 to 12 minutes. Let them cool before using or storing.

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