#93 hamburgers

I have always absolutely loved hamburgers, ever since I can remember!  What a magnificent creation…really, just think about it!  A burger has absolutely every single food group (if you choose to include them), you can easily find one and eat it anywhere on Earth, hands on, and clutter free.  I can’t say it enough, I love them.  Recently, we travelled to New York City and couldn’t help but enjoy the (in my opinion) most simply magnifent burger in the universe:  the Shake Shack burger.  Haters gonna hate, especially West Coast haters, but few burgers have touched my heart like the simple classic at Shake Shack!

On a more personal level, my dad has had a wonderous affair with le hamburger.  A couple of years ago, he renovated his back porch into a spectacular outdoor cooking kiosk – more appropriately denominated the ultimate man-cave grill.  Nothing shouted barbecue fun louder, and soon enough his hamburgers became a thing of renowned fame among family & friends; and anyone who had them knew what all the fuss was about and was sure to get invited for a second time!

Part of the magic of his burgers involved his dedication and love put into grilling everything, plus the simplicity my mother brought to the preparation of the meat & the rest of the ingredients.  See, my parents best taught me that less is always more, and tradition has a wonderful way of showing us just how amazing some things are, without all the added hurly-burly we’ve gotten used to nowadays.  And this I learned best with the art of creating the perfect hamburger!

We’ve all enjoyed a juicy burger, I bet.  They’re everywhere: sold at fast-food restaurants, diners, and specialty & high-end restaurants (as one of the cheaper options on the menu – nonetheless, there!).  The international & regional variations are infinite!  Named after Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg, I often wonder why Germans have such a hard time getting a big, fat juicy burger right.  I guess I’ve been spoiled, both by my dad and by ‘Murica.  Although the idea of the hamburger might have originated in Germany as a patty wrapped in a bread roll, the American version, a ground meat patty between two slices of bread, is said to have been first created in the United States in 1900 by Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant, owner of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut – which still exists & still serves hamburgers on toast!  It gained national recognition only four years later at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair when the New York Tribune referred to the hamburger as “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike”.  Whichever claims are true, and however it is that the hamburger gained ultimate fame around the world…the simple truth today is that it’s big & it’s great, and what’s better than that?

For the Hamburger Patties

  • 2 pounds of ground chuck
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Coarse salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns

Dijon mustard & Worcestershire sauce flavor these burgers before they’re cooked.  Heat the grill to high.  In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine the ground chuck with the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce; season generously with salt & pepper.  Gently form the mixture into 1-inch-thick patties.

Place the patties on the hottest part of the grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Move the patties to the cooler part of the grill; continue grilling until desired doneness, 4 to 8 minutes per side.  Split the hamburger buns and toast on the grill if you like; place a burger on each bun and serve with the desired accompaniments.

Suggested Accompaniments

  • Cheese slices
  • Sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • Red & white onions (raw or grilled)
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Pickles
  • Mayonnaise
  • Boston lettuce leaves
  • Alfalfa
  • Bacon slices

To end this post, I would like to add a very disturbing list of very unusual hamburgers I found as I did my research on the weird world of the Interwebs.  I had to share this!  How I really feel about this is still in the works, I’m stuck somewhere in between feeling the injustice for those who don’t have enough food to eat each day and admiring the creativity of the human mind when the sky’s the limit.  Read up!

  • In May 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records named the most expensive burger in the world, Le Burger Extravagant, sold at New York’s Serendipity 3 for $295…it contains Japanese Waygu beef, 10-herb white truffle butter, smoked Pacific sea salt, 18-month Cheddar, shaved black truffles, a quail egg, and a white truffle-buttered roll.  But apparently what really drove the price up is the solid gold, diamond-encrusted toothpick holding the whole thing together.  Geez.  Although I didn’t see the famous burger from 2012 on their online menu, I did stumble along the Guinness World Record holding Golden Opulence Sundae at a whopping $1,000!  No idea what that’s all about.
  • The world’s largest hamburger commercially available tips the scales at 185.8 pounds (84.3kg) and is on the menu at Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Southgate, Michigan.  Why anyone would ever need to order this is beyond me.  The Absolutely Ridiculous Burger sells at $1,999 and was featured on Man v. Food, where the host Adam Richman and a team of 40 people attempted to eat one with no avail.
  • A Kobe beef & Maine lobster burger, topped with caramelized onion, Brie cheese, seared foie gras, arugula, prosciutto, & 100 year-aged balsamic is available at Le Burger Brasserie inside the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.  This French interpretation of the classical American staple sells for $777.  Oh, and it’s paired with waffle fries and a BLT salad.
  • New York chef Daniel Boulud & his Michelin star-awarded DB Bistro Moderne in New York City, created an intricate dish composed of layers of ground sirloin, foie gras, and wine-braised short ribs, assembled to look exactly like a fast-food burger, available with truffles in season!  The Original DB Burger is not as expensive as the ones mentioned above, so it’s definitely worth a try!
  • In Las Vegas, the Heart Attack Grill – yes, this exists – serves the Quadruple Bypass Burger.  It weighs two pounds and the name is obviously derived from the fact that the burger is unhealthy.  The restaurant is controversially known for their honesty regarding their unhealthy menu, and people who weigh over 350 pounds (160kg) actually get to eat for free.  I am appalled, and the website overdoes it.
  • In 2013, the first hamburger made from meat that was lab-grown from cow stem cells was served in London.  The hamburger was a result of research in the Netherlands led my Mark Post at Masstricht University and sponsored by Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin.  Weird?  Unacceptable?  Welcome to the future.
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