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Cheeseburgers

Cheeseburgers

My favorite sandwich in the whole world is the cheeseburger. And I've eaten them (or variations) all over the world, and some are definitely much better than others. Anybody can make a cheeseburger, you say? Well, yes, but not necessarily a good one. Some of the most expensive burgers I've had in some pretty fancy places were just plain bad. Here's my opinion.

First is the meat. I have talked to experts, and read articles where hamburger gurus were interviewed. The ground meat must always have at least 15% fat, preferably 20%. You must avoid the leanest meat; the more you chew it the drier it gets and the harder it is to swallow! No, you want Prime (cheap) hamburger, which is flavorful and juicy. And, opposite to other cuts of beef, the "Prime" ground beef is cheaper than the lean meat.

While we're talking about the meat, I also suggest that the patty be fairly thin. I know some fancy places make a big swollen fat patty. Eat those on a plate with a knife and fork and call it Salisbury Steak. But those big patties make a burger hard to hold together. I personally like the frozen 20% fat patties from CostCo, and keep them in the freezer not only for burgers but also for tacos, spaghetti sauce, chili or other dishes. If you make the patties from fresh meat, make the patty a little thinner in the middle because it will plump up when you cook it; resulting in a fairly flat patty.

The other thing is the bun. Some fancy places serve their burgers on buns that are too hard, and when you try to bite them, all the stuff tries to escape out the back end. No good. Take the advice of burger experts from the past hundred years and use good old sponge bread buns like they sell in the supermarket. With or without sesame seeds, that's up to you. But no fancy hard rolls allowed.

The next thing is that the buns need to be toasted. Not in a toaster, but on a griddle. Butter them and lay them face down on the griddle or in a frying pan until they get a beautiful golden crust. Rotate them now and then to make the toasting uniform.

The condiments need to stay in the burger where they belong, instead of slipping and sliding all over the place. Big slippery slabs of lettuce, onion, and tomato can make the burger hard to handle. I prefer to chop the lettuce, chop the onion, and then combine them. I put the tomato on the melted cheese where it will stay put better.

Now what else you put on the burger is up to you and your guests. Like Burger King says, "Have it your way." Personally, I use mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, some pickle slices, and maybe some jalapeño rings in addition to the cheese, tomato, lettuce, and onion. I may also add avocado if it's handy. Don't forget other options like catsup, A1 Sauce, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and on and on.

I will also take this opportunity to take a shot at those who think cheeseburgers are junk food. Well, it's got meat, bread, and vegetables. It's got carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It's a main course with a salad all on one bun. It's got more vitamins and minerals than I have time to list, especially if you include the potatoes. And it tastes great!

In the photo, the potatoes are fried in the oven. I've done this with other cuts of spuds, but this was my first try at the typical French fry shape. They were really delicious; better than when I use the deep fryer. The only down side is that they take quite a while; 45 minutes or more. But if you want to try them, just cut them the way you want and follow the oven fries recipe in the link above.


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