Four Fantastic Ways to Celebrate this American Treasure
Andrew went back to work this week in Manhattan. No one was gladder to do so. While I tap away on my keyboard blissfully year in and year out, he was less than enchanted with our endless quarantine. There’s a limit to how much anyone can bake. So off he went to Manhattan and immediately found himself very busy doing what he does best. And I am thrilled to tell you that anyone who is counting New York City Real Estate out needs their heads read. So that left me cooking for one. And of all the things that lend itself to that pursuit, the Hamburger is top of my list.
Hamburgers can be anything you want them to be. And they’re perfect for one.
Need I tell you, they are also perfect for a crowd. There are seemingly endless variations. I avidly collect Burger recipes. I am intrigued by regional burgers like today’s Juicy Lucy, a staple of Minneapolis MN. I have a passion for the crispy exterior of the ultra-thin Smashburger whose weight justifies its two patties and double cheese and just about anything else you can put on a burger. Then there’s the Portobello Mushroom burger but before you think it vegetarian, mine’s not. It stuffed with Sweet Italian sausage. And what about that leftover Portobello from the two-pack they come in? Behold the Mushroom Burger in which you Cuisinart the Portobello cap, add it to ground beef and voilà.
The Hamburger is an American Original.
There’s plenty of evidence that the country that made the first Hamburger was our own. Why is it called a Hamburger? The port of Hamburg, Germany, was among the largest in Europe and so filled with ships trading with Russia, it was called “the Russian port”. Among the imports from Russia was minced meat. Quickly embraced by the natives of Hamburg, it became known as Hamburg- style steak. The major port of embarkation for Northern European immigrants to the United States was Hamburg. New York City was their primary destination. To lure German sailors to their restaurants, Chefs began offering Hamburg-style American fillet. Lightly salted Hand-minced beef was served raw with onions and breadcrumbs. Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York offered the dish for 11 cents in 1873. This was twice the price of a simple fillet of beef steak. Nevertheless, it became enormously popular as the price of beef declined. Who first put the Hamburger Steak between two pieces of bread will never be known. What is known is that last year, Americans alone consumed 50 billion burgers.
Where’s the Beef? And what’s our recommendation to make our Hamburgers for one?
If you are a true hamburger fancier, there’s no question that you can make your own minced meat in a food processor. The best cuts for doing this are Chuck, Round, and especially Brisket. The best burgers need a little fat—in fact, some Burger experts think that a 70/30 mixture makes the best blend. For this, you really need Navel End Brisket. In my opinion, there’s no question that Supermarket 80/20—that is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat is the way to go. As to serving size, 6 oz. per burger seems to be ideal. Our beef burgers were made with it. In fact, with the exception of the sausage burger, even the Mushroom burger weighed in that size. About the Buns: My preferred Hamburger Bun is the Brioche Bun. Thomas’ English Muffins are great. And Martin’s Potato Rolls are everywhere.
Now for the individual recipes…
The Juicy Lucy Burger
This burger seals the cheese in the middle of two thin burger patties. We love cheeseburgers so we upped our cheese to two slices of American Cheese. We divided our 6-ounce patty into two balls and squished the balls down with our hands. The trick here is to make sure you’ve sealed the cheese in properly because you don’t want it to gush out in the cooking process. It’s traditionally served with grilled onions and Bread and Butter pickles on the side.
A very close cousin of Lucy, this is another thin patty made from 3 oz. of beef. The patty is made exactly like the Juicy Lucy’s. This is the burger that invites you to pile on the extras. There’s even a special sauce—a smoky chipotle mayonnaise. You can eliminate making the sauce making by finding yourself a jar of Marie’s Creamy Chipotle Ranch. I am sure you can sing the rest of McDonald’s “Two All-Beef Patties” for everything else to glorify this truly wonderful burger.
The Portobello and Pork Sausage Burger
Think of this as a stuffed mushroom make into a burger. It’s a snap to make the burger patty but I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to assure that the burger is cooked through. Rare it should not be. I used Sweet Italian Sausage patties for this one. They are the perfect size to fill the Portobello cap. Whether you scrape out the gills of the Portobello or not is up to you.If you want more pork and less Portobello, be my guest. I like the more mushroom. The add ons are up to you. I used Thousand Island Dressing, Bibb Lettuce and sat it down beside some dill pickles
The Mushroom Beef Burger
One of the debits of cooking for one is that no one in the food industry thinks anyone does this. So the inevitable left-overs too often go bad before the solitary cook can use them. Not so with the portobello leftover from yesterday’s burger. Put into the food processor and pulse until the pieces approximate the size of the chopped meat, it’s a perfect earthy addition to a beef patty. As I am an inveterate cheese lover, mine was topped with coarsely grated cheddar and some caramelized mushrooms I had on hand. You can use any toppings you wish. And I think lettuce makes any burger look better.
Here are the Four Recipes:
Juicy Lucy Burgers
Minneapolis MN's gift to the world of Hamburgers, this luscious burger gives you melted cheese in every bite.
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef, at least 15 percent fat
- 4 slices American cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 4 potato rolls or soft hamburger buns, split
- Bread-and-butter pickles, for serving
- Step 1 In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Divide the beef into four equal portions, then halve each of those portions. Gently roll each portion into a ball using the palm of your hand, then flatten each into a disk shape on a large cutting board, pressing with your fingers and palm until just over 4 inches wide and 1/4-inch thick. Repeat to form eight patties. Season both sides of each patty with the salt-and-pepper blend.
- Step 2 Add one slice cheese to the center of one patty, folding any overhanging corners of the cheese inward. Using a spatula, lift another patty from the cutting board and place it on top of the cheese, pressing gently to connect both patties. Gently pinch the edges of the patties together to thoroughly seal, then use your fingers to round the edges by pressing and patting along the perimeter. Repeat with the remaining patties, forming three more burgers, and set aside.
- Step 3 In a large (preferably 12-inch) cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion
- Step 4 sprinkle with sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, adding 2 tablespoons water about every 5 minutes to prevent burning, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Once the onions are caramelized, transfer them to a bowl. (If you have any bits left in the pan, wipe them out.)
- Step 5 Add the oil to the skillet to lightly coat the bottom and heat over medium-high until scalding-hot, about 2 minutes. Add the burgers and cook until seared and dark brown on the outside, 3 to 5 minutes per side. (You’ll want to let the burgers cook undisturbed as long as possible to develop a crisp sear and to prevent them from splitting. Their insides will cook through by the time the outsides form a proper sear. Resist the urge to cut them open, as the cheese will spurt out.) Transfer burgers to a clean cutting board to rest.
- Step 6 Meanwhile, toast the buns: Scrape up and remove from the pan any cheese that may have leaked, leaving a thin layer of accumulated fat in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Working in batches, toast the buns cut-side down until warmed and toasted in spots, about 1 minute. Form sandwiches by layering pickles, patties, then caramelized onions on buns. Serve immediately.
- 1 cup finely chopped dill pickles
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. ketchup
- 2 Tbsp. sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
- ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
- 1½ lb. ground beef (20% percent fat)
- 4 potato rolls
- ½ head of iceberg lettuce, leaves separated, torn into pieces about the size of the buns
- 1 white onion, very thinly sliced into rings on a mandoline
- 4 thin tomato slices (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 8 slices American cheese
- Step 1 Prepare a grill for high heat. Place a cast-iron griddle, flat side up, on grate
- Step 2 heat until very hot, at least 20 minutes.
- Step 3 Mix together pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, adobo sauce, and ½ tsp. salt in a medium bowl
- Step 4 set special sauce aside.
- Step 5 Divide beef into eight 3-oz. portions (don’t form into patties). Place 4 portions between 2 sheets of parchment paper, spacing 6″ apart, and, using a meat mallet or skillet, firmly smash to create thin patties, about 5″ across. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions and fresh parchment paper.
- Step 6 Wrap all the buns together in a large sheet of foil to make a packet (this will keep buns soft and from getting too toasted on the grill). Place packet on grate and grill, turning once, until buns are warmed through, about 1 minute. Spread sauce over cut sides of buns. Place 3–4 pieces of lettuce on bottom buns and top each with some onion and a tomato slice, if using.
- Step 7 Drizzle oil over the griddle and use paper towels to evenly coat surface. The oil needs to be hot
- Step 8 you should see smoke almost instantly. Season patties lightly with salt. Place 4 on the griddle, seasoned side down, and season top sides lightly with salt. Cook, undisturbed, until outer edges are brown and undersides are very crisp, about 2 minutes. Flip and place a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Cook until cheese is melted, about 30 seconds. Transfer patties to buns with toppings, stacking 2 patties on each bun. Repeat with the remaining 4 patties, scraping off any cheese stuck to the griddle in between batches.
Portobello and Pork Sausage Burgers
This burger is hearty, unusual, and really cool: a portobello filled with sausage meat and grilled.
- 1 pound ground sweet Italian Pork Sausage patties
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic per burger
- 1 teaspoon onion powder per burger
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
- Olive oil
- 4 burger buns
- Any burger fixings you like
- Step 1 Prepare a grill
- Step 2 the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the heat. Or cook on a grill pan on the stovetop.
- Step 3 Use a spoon to lightly scrape away the gills of the mushrooms and hollow them slightly. Drizzle the mushrooms (inside and out) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press 1/4 of the mixture into each of the hollow sides of the mushrooms
- Step 4 you want the meat to spread all the way across the width of the mushrooms. They should look like burgers. Then sprinkled garlic and onion powders over the sausage.
- Step 5 Grill the burgers, meat side down, until the pork is well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until the top side of the mushrooms are browned and the mushrooms are tender, another 6 to 8 minutes. If you like, use an instant-read thermometer to check the interior temperature of the pork, which should be a minimum of 145 degrees.
- Step 6 Serve the burgers on buns (toasted, if you like) with any fixings you like.
Mushroom Beef Burgers
A Classic Beef Patty gets an earthy umami flavor from Mushrooms and aromatics to make a perfect burger.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 Portobello Mushroom cap, stemmed removed.
- 1/3 medium white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- Step 1 Wash and clean the mushroom. Give it a rough chop to break it into chunks.
- Step 2 In a food processor mince the onions and garlic. Once they’re done, add the mushroom pieces and use the pulse mode to mince them. Using the pulse mode and giving the mushrooms a rough chop helps them hold on to their liquid, making the burgers easier to form.
- Step 3 Combine the mushrooms with the smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Step 4 In a large bowl mix the mushrooms and ground beef together.
- Step 5 Using your hands, form the mixture into five patties, using your thumbs to create a small indentation in the top.
- Step 6 Grill the burgers on a medium-high grill for 6 minutes per side.
- Step 7 Serve on toasted buns with your favorite condiments.
- Step 8