Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers hot; onions in the middle, pickle on top. Makes your lips go flippity flop.

From under the tuckus of a warrior to your plate, hamburger has a surprisingly interesting history.  Ground meat was eaten in ancient times but it becomes worthy of note during the 13th century.

As the Mongols raided and pillaged, they rode with meat under their butts.   They were a hard riding horde, and would travel days without ever leaving their saddles.  I don’t even want to know how they managed to  . . . uhm . . . go.  Anyhoo, they needed food that was portable and could be eaten by hand while on the hoof.   They would place flattened meat patties under their saddles, the meat would be tenderized as they road and then they would eat the meat raw.

When the Khans invaded Russia, the Russians incorporated this form of meat into their own cuisine which they called "Steak Tartare" (Tartars being their name for the Mongols).  Over time, Russian chefs began to add chopped onions and raw eggs to the mix to improve the flavor and consistency of the meat.

When German sailors visited the Russian ports, brought to Hamburg what they called “tartare steak”.  German cooks altered the mix into something that met their taste . . . a smoked, slab of salted minced beef  mixed with onions and breadcrumbs.

German immigrants brought their recipes with them to America and introduced the Hamburg steak.   To attract German sailors, eating stands along the New York city harbor offered "steak cooked in the Hamburg style".

Seque . . . I’m sure you’ve always wondered what the difference is between a chopped steaks and a Salisbury steak.  No?   C’mon . . . you can at least admit you’re the slightest bit curious. No?  I’m going to tell you anyway.  The difference is the shape . . . a chopped steak is round and a Salisbury steak is oval . . . that’s it.

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut has the distinction of creating the first Hamburger . . . a debate could be had as to whether Louis’ creation was a sandwich or a ‘real’ hamburger.  You can decide that for yourself.

What happened is this . . . one day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis' Lunch and told the proprietor that he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run.   Louis placed ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way. And so, there it was . . . a hamburger.
Louis’ Lunch is still in business and making their burgers exactly the same way they did on the day the burger was born including using the original cast-iron grills. .  .ground beef between two slices of bread – you can ask for cheese, onion, tomato or lettuce but don’t ever ask for condiments . . . it ain’t happenin’


I am going to let you in on a big secret . . . I am going to share my cheeseburger recipe.  I know a cheese burger isn't anything special . . . or is it?

All modesty aside . . . I make the most delicious, juicy, amazing cheeseburger . . . EVER.

What’s so hard about making a great cheeseburger you may be asking yourself?  It’s not hard at all.  It’s just the right combination of good, quality ingredients and lots of them!

The carnivore in me screams MEAT MEAT MEAT  . . . I must submit.  Yeah, I know, twist my arm . . . ouch ouch ouchie . . . that’s enough! So, I start with a big, honkin’ ball of meat about this size of a softball . . . about three quarters of a pound. 

And then I smoosh it down into a big, honkin’ patty and sprinkle it with Tony Chachere’s creole spice – I use Tony’s in just about everything, it’s amazing stuff!  The meat should be 80% lean/ 20% fat for optimal juiciness without too much fattiness.

I cook the burger on my George Foreman grill.  It cooks the burger perfectly and evenly every time; a device that well worth the space it takes up in my kitchen.

While the meat is cooking . . . 12 minutes for dead, dead, deadsky / 6 minutes for me which is somewhere between rare and medium rare. . .

Anyhoo . . . while the meat is cooking, brown a couple of slices pork roll or bacon.

Prepare a nice fresh Kaiser roll by placing a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on the top and bottom halves of the bun. 

Place the burger on the bun and top with the pork roll or bacon (or both, why not?)  Add condiments, if desired; I like A-1 steak sauce and my hunny like ketchup and mustard.   Put the top on and eat your big, honkin’ burger.  NOM-dilly-icious!

You can make this whole meal in fewer than 20 minutes and it’s way better than any burger you can get in a restaurant.

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