My canonical hamburger

Submitted by John on Thu, 12/30/2021 - 22:11

So my canonical cheeseburger has:

  • lettuce (preferably iceberg, sometimes leaf, sometimes shredded, sometimes both)
  • tomato
  • sauerkraut
  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • relish
  • pickles
  • rarely, but sometimes, mayo
  • pickled onions
  • sliced big circles of raw onions
  • sautéed onions
  • sautéed mushrooms & peppers
  • sometimes thinly sliced sautéed jalapeños
  • and a perfectly fried sunny side up egg right on top

Burger itself is a blend of hamburger (prefer a fattier blend when grilling, but usually go with 85/15 on a frying pan on the stove), regular Quaker Oats (a bit more than a handful or so per pound of meat, and I have small hands), a raw egg, quite a lot of Worcestershire sauce (not optional!), and generous amounts of seasoning. Here's one option: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, finely chopped fresh thyme or fresh oregano, and if no fresh herbs are on hand, dried oregano, kind of sparingly compared to paprika (cannot have too much) and garlic powder (use lots). Another option: cut back bit on all of the above and replace with Penzey's Turkish blend. 

The goal of the oats is to bind everything together because you're adding a lot of liquid. If you have a fattier grind you could maybe add a bit more oats. 

Layer the seasonings and the meat! Put in 3/4 of an inch or so of meat into the bowl, season with all powders, repeat. Then add the oats, egg, and Worcestershire. Hand mix, don't over mix. Let it sit out to take the chill off while you prepare the toppings above.

Cheese! I try to avoid cheddar because it doesn't melt very good. I usually don't use blue cheese, but sometimes do if I am missing some of the toppings listed above. 

The secret to how I make all of that above is the cast iron pan. And even though I am usually making burgers for 8 other people in my family, everyone else only wants lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, relish, and pickles, maybe a bit of onion. So I only have to prep everything else for just me, and since I'm only making one (large) burger, and that's a lot of different toppings, I only need to prepare a little bit of everything. 

So the cast iron pan. I make burgers for absolutely everyone else in the house. Shoo them out of the kitchen, then I put my largish size patty on the cast iron. In the other corner of the cast iron, I put on the mushrooms, onions, peppers, and jalapeños (don't forget to season!). Depending on the size of the pan I am using, sometimes I can cram the egg in there too, but often times I use the smaller egg pan to get the egg right, if there's lots of crusties on the bottom of the burger pan. The egg won't flip right and it gets to be a problem. 

Then it's a matter of cooking everything up so it finishes at the right time, and that takes practice. But when it's all done, I have this monster burger... that I eat all alone in the kitchen because everyone else has run off. Still delicious though. 

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