Between the Bunz: Hamburgers
September 8, 2018

Between the Bunz: Hamburgers

The One. The Only. THE HAMBURGER!

We all know it.  Most love it.  The inventor, well, who knows…That explanation will be provided (Albeit skewed through times and egos). Going back a few years ago, data shows that Canadians eat around 15 million of these bad boys each year; this stunned to me and caused me to do my own poll.... ends up folks eat these up 3X a day sometimes.  The USA (Who claim to stake claim on the invention), throws down a whopping 50 million Liberty Sandwiches (The name given to the sandwich by the US Soldiers during WW1).

Now, the big question…. Who invented the burger for real?!  Well, using some keystrokes, I found the very popular isicia omentata.  The 4th Century Roman dish consisting of baked beef mixed with pine nuts, peppercorns, and white wine.  Does sound similar, minus bread, to the fancier stuff served now in 2018?

Forwarding into more modern times, like the late 1600s, in Germany, Frikadellen, pan-fried minced meat came to fruition.  Staying in Germany, Hamburg, circa 1745 (Your conclusions are correct on naming our creation), formed the Hamburg Steak.  Cheaper beef cuts mixed with spices, and fried.  They too, came up with the Hamburg Sausage.  Same minced meat with spices.  This dish was served with toast.

We are getting the gist from the city name of Hamburg, and the recipe, that this place had something to do with this culinary miracle.  Now, here in North America around 1845, the meat grinder was brought here (By a German no less).  And with many Northern Europeans taking the Hamburg America Line to America which started in 1847, this ground beef delight was sure to become a reality in North America sooner than later.

This is where the controversy starts for who founded the modern day hamburger.  Charlie Nagreen, at the young age of 15 was noted as coming up with an innovative way to eat this monstrosity.  His claim to fame in 1885 Wisconsin stood with his idea of allowing fair goers mobility with his Hamburg Steak by flattening it, and serving between two pieces of bread.

Dave Davis of Athens Texas got his meat grinder in 1880, making his between Texas toast for those on the go.  After 1880, it was a known staple on the lunch menu in Athens, Texas.  Dave and his wife even packed up and went to the Saint Louis Fair in 1904 to sling hamburgers.  Both Dairy Queen and McDonalds give Fletcher “Old Dave” Davis credit on being one of the forefathers of the modern burger.  Even with Old Dave receiving some clout from a few big names, people argue to this day who really came up with the burger we know.

Moving into the 20th century, the word was out.  Hamburgers are great!  With production lines and commercialization becoming rampant, assembly of the burger became more rapid and simpler.  This led to Walt Anderson opening the 1st White Castle in Wichita, Kansas back in 1916.  Walt kept it clean.  Grills, spatulas, and employees were all hygienically correct.  Walt was a business genius.  His “Hot Hamburger” newsletter implored employees to be quick and precise.  White Castle could kick out burgers faster than anyone at the time.  They are the predecessor of the fast food restaurant.

Going on, and on, and on from White Castle to McDonald’s to Tim Horton’s to Harveys, burger joints big and small are abundant since Walt did his first version.  Now beyond the USA and Canada, the hamburger is in virtually every country on Earth.  And the ingredients, price, and size vary from slider small and under a buck, to $8,000 and almost 1,800 pounds!

The word “burger” now is anything on a bun.  All animals, even veggies and tofu, are considered burgers when flanked by a bun (or any bread for that matter...).  At this juncture, beef is boss.  Whoever did invent the hamburger, all evidence points to beef being the prime protein.

Now lets get down to business and get some real hamburger talk goin...where's the beef?

THE BEEF:

Ground chuck, sirloin, round, brisket, and just beef are terms heard for what cut meat is actually in your burger.  The problem with buying at the supermarket is you don’t know what cut, and when and how it was processed.  For this reason, cooking your burger past medium will kill anything.  No pink burgers!

Using Brisket for flavor, Sirloin for its expensive, tasty, and less-fat content, along with good ol’ cheap, rich, and fatty chuck will form a fantastic patty! Fat content is needed. 20% equals a good burger.  Not dry.  Not greasy.

1 Lb Sirlon

½ Lb Brisket

½ Lb Chuck

Grinding techniques, well, there is three options.  Always freeze your meat for 10 minutes prior to the grinding and chopping.  This keeps the heat from friction down, ensuring the fat remains intact, and not smeared.

The Meat Grinder:  Works great. Can be electric or manual.

The Food Processor:  Works. But will make a paste and smear fat if not careful…

By Hand:  Best way, yet effort required.  Using a clever will safeguard against fat smearing, and allowing the grind to be small, yet not pasty.

Seasoning the beef.  In a bowl, a teaspoon of table salt per 1 ½ pounds is needed.  Other than the needed sodium, the world is your oyster in spicing this meaty circle.  Mix lightly with your hands in the bowl.  Seasoning just the outside won’t cut it…

Making the patty. Form by hand, or there are many wonderful, and unique presses and gadgets out there on the market.  Again, the size of your burger depends on you bread choice, appetite, and creativity.  Just remember, press a thumbprint a quarter of the way down in the center of your raw patty.  This keeps your burger level after cooking.  If not, you end up with a swollen burger.

The subject of cooking is upon us.  Baking will work of course, but don’t.  Grilling in the back yard to get the sear and smokey goodness means a lot to this meat.  If it’s raining, no worries, any pan will work. But a griddle for lines and fat to drip is better.  And a cast iron skillet will add a beautiful crust if heated nice and hot before the burger hits the pan.

Buns, breads, cheeses, veggies, and condiments.  With the burger now a worldly object, absolutely anything and everything has been done to this culinary marvel.  Just to list the typical of all typical burgers, item by item, here it is in case.

  • A Beef Patty (or 2 to up to 100 has been reported)
  • A Bun (Poppyseed is very, very popular)
  • Hand Leafed Lettuce
  • Cheese (American is traditional, but cheddar is way better!)
  • Sliced Tomato
  • Onion (raw or grilled)
  • Pickles
  • Thousand Island Dressing (or call it Secret Sauce once ya’ doctor it up a bit)

And now the real joy of a burger - Burgers by Design - make your burger an experience.  Wow your guests with one of these fancy delights.

Jalapeno Popper Cheeseburgers

  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 minced jalapeños
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 angus ground beef
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 4 brioche buns

We're going to first mix the filling ingredients.  Mix together in a medium glass bow, the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and jalapenos.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Now fold in crumbled and cooked bacon.

Now make your patties in to 8 large and thin patties. Now you're going to divide the filling onto the patties, should be about 1/4 cup on 4 patties.  Save the other 4 as the toppers. Place a second patty on top each patty with filling. Pinch edges to seal burger and re-shape into a disc if necessary.

You'll now season the outside of the burgers with some chili powder and a little vavavoom with some Parmesan over the chili powder.  Season burgers on both sides with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Place on grill and cook until cooked through to your liking, approximately 6 minutes.

Toast your brioche buns lightly and provide all the condiments necessary for a good ole' burger time.  Ketchup, spicy mustard, horse radish, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and WOW.  This is a fantastic cheeseburger.