Sunday, May 16, 2010

As some readers of this blog have probably been able to figure out, I like a good burger.

It’s so easy to get burgers when eating out, I usually get my fill that way, but sometimes I decide I want one but don’t feel like going out and will make one at home. If I’m making it at home, I make a trip to Whole Foods and get half a pound or so of ground chuck, and use half of it for the burger and put the other half in the freezer to use later in a Universal Pilaf, or to make empanada filling or something like that.

A couple of times recently when I’ve gotten ground beef at Whole Foods, the butcher has told me I should chop bacon into really small pieces and mix it in with the ground beef and cook that for my burger. He said it’s really good.

I’m kind of a burger purist, and generally I prefer to eat one kind of meat at a time, so I hadn’t done it. But on Saturday I decided I was going to have a burger and I was walking over to get stuff and thought, “Now what was it I was supposed to mix in with my burger?” and then I remembered that it was bacon and I decided I should try it.

So I got some bacon ($2.46) along with my ground chuck ($2.31) and took about a third of a piece of bacon (the bacon from the butcher counter at Whole Foods is much more substantial than packaged bacon, not sure what the equivalent amount of packaged bacon would be) and chopped it up and mixed it together and pan fried the resulting hamburger patty on the stove.

Holy cow was that good.

Not good if you’re recovering from open heart surgery or if you have an appointment the next day to get you cholesterol levels checked, but if health is not your primary concern, it was pretty darn awesome. I ate it in smaller and smaller bites as I went along and looked at the last of the bun sadly when it was gone.

In other bacon-related news, my friend Cathy forwarded this recipe for Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. So I may try to make those at some point.

For those of you who have never tried to make a burger at home, I’ll pass along Marion Cunningham’s recipe for The Perfect California Burger, which is based on the recipe developed in 1936 by Bob Wian, who started the Bob’s Big Boy restaurant chain.

The Perfect California Hamburger

1 sturdy, fresh, tender hamburger bun
3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
Vegetable oil or shortening
1/4 to 1/3 pound fresh ground beef with 1/3 part fat
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shaved (chiffonade) clean, crisp, iceberg lettuce
2 to 3 tablespoons sweet relish

Only if you must:
2 tablespoons ball-park mustard (no Dijon)
2 tablespoons ketchup
Cheese (only mild Cheddar, please)

Slice the hamburger bun in half. Stir the mayonnaise and onion together and spread on one half of the bun. Heat a skillet and film the bottom with a little shortening or oil. Lightly form the meat into a patty and put it into the hot skillet. Salt and pepper the top very liberally. Fry for 2 or 3 minutes (don’t press down with a spatula because this will dry the meat). Turn the hamburger over and salt and pepper it again. Fry until cooked to your liking. Put the hamburger patty on the onion mayonnaise, and spread the other half of the bun with relish and whatever additional condiments you may be using. Spread the lettuce over, add a slice if cheese, if you must, and put the bun together.

And here are my notes/tips.

I don’t like mayonnaise on my burgers so I mix the ketchup and mustard with the onion. I use pickles instead of relish. I don’t add cheese. And on Saturday, I added bacon, which was a tremendous addition.

When my parents were living outside of Kansas City when I was in college, I came home for the summer and worked at the Mission Hills Country Club snack bar and I learned a bunch of useful things, not the least of which was how to tell how done meat is by poking it.

Rare meat feels like the fleshy part of your hand at the base of your thumb when your thumb is pulled all the way in. Well-done meat feels like that part of the hand when your thumb is stretched all the way out. Depending on how rare you want your burger, you want it to feel like somewhere in between those two extremes.

Not sure if that makes sense or not. A friend actually ran across a postcard with pictures describing this procedure and sent it to me not too long ago. I’ll see if I can dig that up and post the picture. I think it will make more sense.

3 Responses to “Burgers”

  1. Lorrie Says:

    I haven’t had a burger in a long time. You’re getting me hungry!

  2. Sarah Says:

    Have you seen Mo’s Bacon Bar? I’ve never tried one, but a store here carries them and I’m sort of fascinated/repelled by them every time I go in there. I have to check, of course, to see if they are still there and speculate about who buys them.


  3. lessisenough Says:

    They have some bacon candy bars at Whole Foods which may or may not be the same as those in the link, I’ll have to check the next time I’m there. I’ve never been particularly inclined to try them, but a friend sent a link to this recipe for bacon chocolate chip cookies, which for some reason seem quite intriguing to me. I think it’s the idea of cooking bacon in brown sugar.


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