As a child, I wasn’t particularly enamored with burgers. Tropical Hut and the now-defunct Dayrit’s were already popular back then but, for some reason that I never cared to explain even to myself, I preferred Arby’s roast beef sandwich. Perhaps, it was the horseradish sauce. Or, more probably, the succulent meat that was never overcooked to dryness.
That’s the thing about burgers. Until gourmet burgers came to town, there were only “well done” burgers with patties that contained as much extenders as meat. Even home cooked burgers were replete with beaten eggs and flour to keep the patties from breaking apart during cooking. What the cooks of generations past did not realize was that eggs and flour dilute the flavor of meat, and that if the ground meat contained sufficient amount of fat there wouldn’t be any need for “binders” because the fat is the natural binder.
Worse, and this is something I saw all throughout my childhood, cooks would keep flipping the burgers while cooking and even poking them with a fork or knife. The constant flipping was supposed to result in “even cooking” while the poking was meant to make the heat penetrate the center of the patty more efficiently. Wrong and wrong. Constant flipping results in failure to sear both sides of the burger. Poking releases the meat juices that, ideally, should remain in the patty.
Well, that was then. We know better today. We know that searing is essential and that “well done” burgers are not the tastiest. We know too that there are countless things we can add to the patty when assembling burger sandwiches. When Alex experimented with creating uniformly-sized burgers, she grilled three patties and served each in a unique way.
The first patty was laid on a bed of lettuce, and topped with cheese, tomato and cucumber slices, alfalfa sprouts and blue cheese.
The second was assembled this way: lettuce, ham, burger, caramelized onion rings and fried egg sprinkled with spices.
The third burger was the tastiest of all. Alex called it “pizza burger” because it was garnished with tomato and cream sauce.
Inspiring, isn’t it, how the choice of condiments can change the burger experience. If that gets you craving for burgers, below are 12 more ideas on how to enjoy burgers.
Grilled burgers with pineapple and lemon sauce
Burgers with a touch of the tropics. With a Southeast Asian flair too. The grilled pork and beef patties are served with lemon and pineapple sauce, and topped with finely sliced shallots, finger chilies and crushed pineapples. Very refreshing. Get the recipe.
Bean burgers with guacamole
Mashed beans, herbs, spices and the right seasoning make wonderful vegetarian burgers. And they are so good served with guacamole on the side. Get the recipe.
A vegetarian burger with beans, oats and nuts
The patties were made with mashed beans, toasted rolled oats, nuts, sesame seeds, chopped bell peppers, garlic, panko and egg. The seasonings were basic — sea salt, Himalayan black salt and freshly ground black pepper. For added depth, I put in a few pinches of dukkah. Get the recipe.
Pancakes, burger, egg and chili breakfast
A layered breakfast that consists of a burger sandwiched between two pancakes, topped with an egg and smothered with home cooked chili. Read instructions.
Meat and veggie burgers with cheese sauce
Why mix meat with veggies? Well, why not? If an enterprising mushroom lover could turn the idea of a meat and mushroom burger into an icon, why can’t the combination of meat and vegetables work too? Get the recipe.
Comfort food de luxe: pasta topped with cheeseburger
It’s not as if topping pasta with meat is a new concept. That’s what pasta with meatballs is all about. And then there’s chicken parmigiana which goes on top of pasta (I have a pork version). So, why not burgers? Get the recipe.
Holy guacamole burgers
Savory meat, creamy and spicy guacamole, the spiciness of the guacamole balanced by the sweetness of the mangoes…then, the slight crunch of the greens and onions. Ahhh, life is good. Get the recipe.
Burgers with ginger and five spice powder
These burgers are served with a special aioli and, in lieu of the usual onion and pickle slices, with cucumber and pepper relish. Get the recipe.
Burger (not Salisbury) steak with mushroom gravy
Strictly speaking, a hamburger steak is made with only one kind of meat — beef. A burger, on the other hand, is the generic term for a patty made with minced meat or substitutes like vege-meat or vegetables. So, a burger steak is not necessarily a hamburger steak but a hamburger steak is always a burger steak… But, whatever. These are delicious! Get the recipe.
Finger food: mini burgers
For a cocktail party or a casual mid-afternoon garden party with coffee, mini-cakes, mini-sandwiches… Get the recipe.
Lunch for one: bacon cheeseburger
Because solo meals are never meant to be boring. See step-by-step guide for making the bacon cheeseburger.
Vegan mushroom burgers
The burgers are made with chopped oyster mushrooms, onion, garlic, carrot and bell pepper. And, for the binder, panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and an egg substitute that I recently discovered. Get the recipe.