A Burger Even a Purist Could Love

September 12th, 2013 · 13 Comments · Pork and Beef

I’m pretty sure I’ve overused the phrase “I’m a purist” when it comes to burgers. That’s because Andy is in charge of them in our house and I’d go so far as to say “grills perfect burger” is right up there on the “Reasons to Keep Him Around” list with “can do ponytails” and “knows how to set the DVR to X Factor.” His burgers — juicy, salty, loosely packed, and cooked to perfect medium-rare doneness — never need more than ketchup, mustard, a slice of cheese, and a pickle to be my idea of heaven. I mean, really, if there is a meal out there that does not need to be improved upon, it is the American Hamburger. Right?

And yet. Last week, Andy was away on business, and after going on a vegetarian dinner tear for four straight nights, I was hit hard by a burger craving. A beef burger craving. Not a turkey burger, not a salmon burger, not a tandoori chicken burger. A burger burger. I had some ground beef in the freezer, but no charcoals (not that I would’ve fired them up anyway, it was a late soccer night and there was to be no messing around with charcoal chimneys at 8:00) and, more to the point, no Andy.

So I went my own way: I pan-fried some patties and did what I’ve been meaning to do ever since pulling up a stool all by myself at Umami Burger in Santa Monica last year: I made my own version of their popular Hatch Burger. (“No ketchup? No mustard?” I remember asking the bartender/server, who gave me a look that seemed to say “You’re from out of town, aren’t you?”) Rachel, one of my nicer readers who knew of my fondness for the meal, sent along what looked like an official recipe a few months ago, but in the interest of time (picking up a theme here?) I disregarded half of the ingredients and stuck to the three main components: beef, American cheese, roasted green “Hatch” chiles, a jar of which I had picked up in Santa Fe earlier this summer.

When I say this was the best burger I’ve ever made, I’m not lying. (Note the phrasing: best I’ve ever made.) The whole thing came together in about 12 minutes, which would’ve been enough to convert me, but the girls loved them too. I was fully expecting them to opt for the ketchup instead of the chiles, but neither did. I texted a picture of the dinner to Andy, who immediately texted back “That’s just mean.”

Next time it’s burger night, I’m cooking.

Hatch Burgers
Inspired by Umami Burger

4 loosely packed burger patties, about 1/4 – 1/3 pound each, and mixed with a few drops of soy sauce
4 slices American cheese
4 hamburger buns (we used whole wheat, but I think potato rolls are probably a better move; there’s a time for health and this wasn’t one of them)
4 heaping tablespoons roasted green “hatch” chiles (We used Santa Fe Ole; but you can find green chiles in the Mexican aisle of most supermarkets)

In a large deep skillet, fry patties over medium heat, until cooked rare or medium-rare, about 3 minutes a side. During last minute of cooking, top each with a slice of cheese, cover skillet and cook until cheese melts. Slide burgers onto hamburger buns, and top with chiles.

P.S. I’m sorry about the kale overload these days. It really has become the default vegetable in our house and I promise to shake things up on the side dish front as soon as the godd@#m farmer’s market stops selling such good-looking bunches.

PPS: Thank you Rachel!


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You Know it’s Summer When…

May 25th, 2011 · 41 Comments · Pork and Beef

As part of the research for that Summer Cooking Manifesto I worked on for the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit — yes, the one with Gwyneth on the cover – I asked a bunch of editors the question you see up there in the title of this post: You Know it’s Summer When _______ is in the Fridge. There were basil-infused simple syrups (mixed into my Gin & Tonic, this has the potential to be my signature summer cocktail), there were chili oils amd chimichurris, and there was a sunny yellow ladolemeno vinaigrette that you pour over grilled fish (Holy. Freaking. Cow.) which tastes as bright and summery as it looks.  But the most special of all, I think, was this special sauce. Not only because it elevates any burger (we used it on our rolled-out California-style turkey burgers the other night) but because it elevates any cookout. Think what a rock star you will be if you show up to the burger-and-dog barbecue with a jar of this in your hand.

Special Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit

In a small jar, mix together:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon finely grated onion
1 tablespoon sweet relish or 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste

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