IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT BURGER: PART I
Memories Of Days Gone By
I have recently been haunted by the memories of days when I tasted a hamburger that really had true flavor. I mean the flavor was in the meat, the sauce, the buns, and fresh toppings. I can’t find that anymore in restaurants, drive ins, or specialty hamburger outlets that I seek out.
I remember once eating one at a Hamburger Hamlet restaurant in Beverly Hills, California many years ago. The flavor of the meat was incredibly flavorful and cooked just right. It was seared on the outside with a slight pink color in the center.
Another incredible experience was at the Brown Derby Restaurant on Wiltshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Frequented by actors and Hollywood executives, I really looked forward to eating hamburgers there with my Dad. A big toasted bun covered a perfectly cooked burger with excellent toppings.
Bob’s Big Boy restaurants had the double burger with the bun in the middle and a delicious sauce for the topping. Several drive-ins also served similar fare that made me want to go back more often than not.
What You Get Now
More recently, I had one of the best peppercorn flavored steaks at a restaurant called McGuire’s in Pensacola, Florida in the year of 1990. In August of 2017, I went there with my wife to renew that experience. The steaks were priced so high that I settled for a hamburger. Over cooked, chewy like leather, and dry, it was one of the worst burgers I have ever eaten. I vowed not return to that establishment ever again.
From New Orleans to Ft. Lauderdale or wherever, the heady days of delicious hamburgers are over. A patty of mediocre tasting ground meat seems to pervade throughout all restaurants I have tried in recent years. It seems that all eateries need to cover their offerings with bacon, cheese, lots of mayo, pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce to make up for the lack of flavor in the meat.
To top it all off, the juicy taste disappears with the mistaken idea that well-done is the way to serve these belly-stuffers. If the waiter or waitress asks you how you would like your burger done, it still comes cooked just the way “you don’t like it”. It seems like the palates of most people are numbed by the current offerings and simply don’t care anymore.
Recipes On The Internet
I am now on a quest to find The Perfect Burger. I searched high and low on the internet and most of the presentations all look the same. The problem is that these recipes depend heavily on a quality type of meat that should have lots of flavor contained therein.
Maybe it’s time to grind your own meat and add flavor seasonings right into the mix before you cook it on the griddle or BBQ. Since I don’t have the definitive answer at this point, I am going to offer my thoughts on the subject.
Hamburger To Do List Extraordinaire
- Cook on high heat and sear the outside while allowing a slight pink color on the inside.
- Grind your own meat from sirloin or chuck, preferably from grass-fed beef. Much more flavorful than the bland stuff you find in the standard grocery store nowadays.
- Toast the buns slightly on a griddle.
- Create a classic hamburger sauce for a topping.
- Insert Feta Cheese or Blue Cheese right into the ground meat.
- Don’t use eggs to hold the patty together. That makes them gooey.
- Don’t mix bread crumbs in with the burger. That makes them dry.
- Mix sautéed onions (cooled off) into the meat
- Don’t exceed 10% fat content in the meat. Fat adds flavor but usually melts off when you cook the patty and results in a rapidly shrunken burger.
- Refrigerate prepared meat for an hour in the fridge to give body to the burger
I attempted to duplicate McDonald’s Restaurants “Secret Sauce” by locating a web-page that contained an outdated emergency recipe from the manager’s handbook. It was supposed to replace pre-made sauce if the supply ran out, but it didn’t taste right when I finished making it. Thousand Islands or Russian Dressing is the closest substitute I can think of.
In any event, this quest will continue as I search for or try to make the The Perfect Burger! Any and all comments are welcome. Till next time, Adios!
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