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. And double especially if it has canned mushrooms.
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.
A simple burger cooked well is a beautiful thing.