Tag: Burger (page 1 of 2)

Returning to Fargo: The Best Place To Stop For A Snack Off I-94

Disclaimer: Logan spoiler. 

Oh, Logan. North Dakota was supposed to have a starring role. The whole film builds towards this majestic moment where all of the little mutants make a grand pilgrimage to North Dakota.

I’ve gone as North as Grand Forks and I’ve driven across the state from Fargo to Medora. The burnt orange, rolling prairie grass and rugged terrain of Theodore Roosevelt National Park left me awestruck. I’m sure the prairie grass is scratchy and thick with critters, when you drive by and see it gently rolling in the wind, you’ll want to pull your car over and take a nap in it.

North Dakota is actually really beautiful. I could see the characters in Logan reaching the fictional destination of Eden in my mind as prairie grass danced in the wind.

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Let’s Fight About Jucy Lucys

Once I got into an Anchorman-style fight on Twitter about Jucy Lucy’s. Someone definitely drew a Twitter trident.

Fighting about Jucy Lucys is relatively easy to do in Minnesota. Many of us harbor lots of strong feelings about the subject.

If you’ve never heard of a Jucy Lucy, it’s essentially a burger stuffed with cheese. Two restaurants in Minnesota claim to have invented it. If you’ve ever seen Jucy Lucys featured on national television shows or travel blogs, you’ll probably find they only feature Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club. This usually has me rolling my eyes because they leave out the Nook (or Casper & Runyan’s Nook, to be exact).

I really haven’t had that many versions of the Jucy Lucy and I haven’t even visited the 5-8 Club which is going to compel some to cry “heresy.” Once upon a time we tried Matt’s Bar and then we visited the Nook. Then, we thought we should branch out and try a different place and the burgers were overcooked and disappointing so we kept returning to the Nook.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t visit other places. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t either. I’m just saying that the Nook is my favorite.

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The $18 Burger at scape

We ended up dining at scape completely by accident.

After wandering the Central West End district of St. Louis searching for dinner, we made a full circle and peeked inside to ask about a table. It was a last resort, really. We call it a happy accident.

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St. Louis Food Firsts: Pork Steak & Cheese Spread Burger

Moving to a new state is stressful but it is also fun.

One of the things I like best about moving is learning about the local food traditions which vary state to state and region to region. Missouri is only two states down from Minnesota. Still, we’re finding that St. Louis has plenty of foods we’ve never tried before.

For one thing, there’s Provel. We both learned that we like it raw and shredded into salads, but we’re less sure how we feel about it melted. Jake’s tried more versions of St. Louis style-pizza than I have. In some cases, he’s liked it, and in others, not so much. We’ve literally never encountered Provel outside of Missouri, so imagine our surprise when we visited a local Italian restaurant and found it topping the chicken parmesan and baked ziti. The jury’s out on melted Provel. We’ve got plenty of time to decide.

This week we entertained several out-of town-guests who treated us to dinner at two restaurants we haven’t visited yet. These meals provided the perfect opportunity to try two foods I haven’t encountered outside of St. Louis:

Burger With Cheddar Cheese Spread
Burgers topped with cheddar cheese spread might be a thing elsewhere, but I haven’t encountered them yet. A while ago, I ran across this Chowhound thread in which a man asked for help finding a burger with cheddar cheese spread in St. Louis. Based upon the responses and a quick internet search, it seems like this type of burger is offered at many local restaurants.

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I spotted it on the menu at Schlafly Brewery in Maplewood, MO. If you’re in the camp that likes goopy cheese sauces, cheese balls, and cheese spreads, you’ll like this style of burger. There’s really nothing not to like. The fact that the cheese spread’s temperature was cooler than the burger struck me as interesting, since I’m used to the cheese being melted onto the burger. But eventually the warm burger patty made the cheese more melty.

Finally, there are two more things I really like about Schlafly: The brewery offers small 10 oz. glasses of beer & did NOT overcook the burger.

Pork Steaks
According to this Feast Magazine article, the pork steak is a slice from the pork shoulder or Boston butt. This cut was made very popular in the 1950’s by the second-generation owners of one of our major grocery store chains, Schnucks. I’ve only seen people cook pork shoulder low and slow in a braise or crock-pot. Supposedly, pork steaks take well to grilling. It seems like they’re typically baked or smoked before receiving a char on the grill. At Hendricks, this was the case.

My North Iowa Blogger friends visited St. Louis this week to promote North Iowa’s new flight service to and from St. Louis via Air Choice One. The city of St. Charles provided a warm welcome and treated us to a meal at Hendricks BBQ. Pork Steak was the Wednesday special and so I ordered it.

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Keep in mind that this is the very first pork steak I have ever tried. The meat wasn’t as spoon tender as the menu described, but, honestly, I preferred it not to be. I dislike ribs that are cooked so long that their meat slides from the bones. I prefer the meat to still retain some chew. This pork steak’s flavor and texture reminded me of pork ribs. I especially liked the melting fatty bits around the edges. Jake got to enjoy the leftovers and agrees that we need to eat more pork steaks.

So far, we’ve tried Provel, toasted ravioli, pork steaks, gooey butter cake and cheese spread burgers. We’ve had Mr. Wizard’s frozen custard, but not Ted Drewes’. I still need to try an Imo’s pizza and neither of us has ordered a St. Paul Sandwich, Syberg’s-style wings, or slinger (yet). What unique-to-St. Louis foods should we try next? 

Everything I’ve Ever Wanted To Say About Burgers

Disclaimer: Sorry Mom and Dad.

If you really want to bother me, overcook my burger.

The prelude to disappointment is when a restaurant asks you how you want your burger cooked and then it arrives well done, anyway. I always ask for medium rare and just hope it arrives a little south of hockey puck.

Growing-up, we ate burgers weekly and I avoided burgers into my mid-20’s because I assumed I hated them. I remember helping my mom divide one pound of beef into four balls and packing them into disks. We seasoned them with salt and pepper and placed them on the grill until they were charred on the outside and well done on the inside. It’s not that they tasted horrible; I just didn’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to eat a hamburger.

My perfect burger is simply a burger that isn’t messed up. There are burgers for every mood and occasion, but when I’m really craving a burger, I want a classic one. O’Connell’s Pub delivered our perfect burger this weekend. It was like my mom grilled us a burger on our deck and didn’t mess it up. Now, I’m left with intense burger feelings.

Use delicious beef! But not too lean.

Don’t overcook it.

Keep it loosely packed.

Season the beef, but cook it however you like.

Grill it or griddle it, I really don’t care as long as it’s medium rare and you do all of the things I just mentioned.

Take the time to toast the bun because, let’s be real, it only takes a second and makes a huge difference.

Hold the foccacia or ramen noodle or Texas toast bun and keep your wacky sauces for another time. 

Simple garnishes like raw onion and tomato are just fine and there’s no shame in the ketchup game. Crisp iceberg lettuce is OK, too. A good burger’s like good pizza. Too many toppings can be overkill. More guacamole, peanut butter, and chicken fried bacon burgers for everyone else!

Good burgers don’t have to be expensive. If your burger costs at least $12 and then I have to pay extra to upgrade the potato chips to french fries, I’m gonna get cranky. Especially if it’s overcooked.

Much of a burger’s goodness is about the person who cooks it. Last month, I enjoyed a good burger at the Hilton Garden Inn by the Lambert airport. The chef cooked it to a perfect medium rare and served it with crispy, house-cut french fries. I’ve received far less burgers for a higher price and at fancier restaurants.

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A simple burger cooked well is a beautiful thing.

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