May is the month of the burger…need we say more? For those need a juicy, meaty, tasty filling burger fix, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, there are more than 14 billion hamburgers consumed each year— that’s an average of 47 hamburgers per person per year, so it is safe to say that there are plenty of Americans who feel the same. So much so, that they dedicated a month to the food.
There are many ways to create the “ultimate” burger, but in my opinion, there are so many varieties of the “burger” peer se, it is hard to truly tell. For purists, a quarter to a half pound of pure aged angus will do the trick. Now, with the enormous popularity of burgers, high-end and celebrity chefs are putting their own twists on the classic, throwing together short rib, brisket, sirloin, Kobe, and more to create the perfect meat mix.
Naturally, there are chopped Ahi burgers (which I love as a light and healthier alternative to the heavy, “fattier, more caloric and cholesterol-packed” patty; chopped salmon burger (mixed with chopped scallions, garlic, some soy an sesame seeds) for a make a great Asian-style patty packed with Omega-3 oil; pork burgers, which I prefer in slider form – mini-burgers that come three or four to a plate and are perfect for sharing, or another great beef alternative – the beloved turkey burger. As a matter of fact, when prepared properly, it can be difficult to tell the difference. In my house, we are always concerned about eating right, and shaving calories and fat where we can. But, we love food. Plain and simple – if it isn’t delish, we won’t eat it. So, with that said, we do a finely diced onion, egg (for binding), light bread crumbs to aerate , sometimes we’ll add BBQ sauce into the meat, of course some salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic and make oversized patties, which we then throw on the grill. Unbelievable- and easy to prepare!
Naturally, for those who are adventurous, delve into the world of game meats – buffalo, ostrich, chopped wild boar, Venison – if you can chop it, you can “burger-ize” it.
I would be remiss not to mention any style Veggie-burger – be it grains or beans, or a combo there of. A great quick and satisfying veggie burger is a Boca Burger. I do not believe in “pre-packaged frozen foods”, but these I must say make the grade.
Once you’ve got your base, then it’s all about the toppings and the bread!
I am a purist – I want a thick juicy burger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles (on occasion) and ketchup. I prefer an English Muffin or Pita bread to big thick buns. For me it’s about the bread to meat ratio. And I like it 65/35 meat to bread. Others feel differently, but the fact is that everyone needs to find their own way.
Think about the endless toppings – cheese, bacon and onion rings; a slice of ham and pineapple for a Hawaiian Burger; wrapped in a giant lettuce cup with tomatoes, red onion and sprouts; topped with a fried egg (I must admit this one gets me EVERY time), mushrooms and Swiss – always crowd pleaser; Avocado, tomatoes and sprouts, Throw guacamole and salsa on for a Mexican-style burger; teriyaki glaze, Enoki mushrooms, seaweed salad and top with sesame seeds is a very original take on Japanese style; for a more upscale designer treat top with truffles. There’s nothing else needed! Now these are just a few suggestions. If it feels right to you – go for it. Make up your own style.
Cook them medium rare, medium or well, with or without cheese, topped or naked, with or without condiments – is there’s no right or wrong! Create what pleases you and then enjoy!
May is burger month – be a part of it!
Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.