Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Classic American Hamburger

Before I could even sit down to my dinner last night  (I was busy trying to get a good picture in the fading sunlight),  the Handyman said he loved my buns!   
Man...after all these years,  I can still excite him.

Of course, the buns he was talking about were the homemade hamburger buns he had stuffed in his mouth.
So,  the phrase didnt' come out seductive or anything.  It was more like  "Mmph, mann yer bbunnzz (chomp chomp) er ghraate"
His mouth was full AND he was talking at the same time.  (sigh)
But I was thankful for the compliment all the same.  My buns were great! I made them from scratch. They were so much better than store bought buns. 

I'll return to the bun recipe in a moment...
but first let me say--I like hamburgers.   And lately it seems there has been a lot of great burgers being posted in the food blogger world, some of them very fancy, some of them not.  (I wish I could try them all)

This burger is not. Fancy, that is.

I was going thru some old cooking magazines, deciding what to toss and what to keep  (one can't keep them all, can one?) and I came across Cooks Illustrated, special publication "American Classics"  display until October 19, 2009.
And in it there is a recipe/article  for bringing back the "Original Drive-In Burger."  As I said, I like hamburgers and I had been wanting to make my own buns for quite some time now, and this looked like an easy burger to do.....sort of.
They have you  grinding your own burger mixture.
I just didn't want to do that, but I was intrigued by the  'classic burger sauce' and the simplicity of the burger.  Onions only.  And  cheese.  It said to use American cheese, but I didn't have any, so I substituted some Colby-jack slices and we loved  them like that.

I went ahead and decided to use store bought hamburger meat, seasoned it with season salt and a bit of garlic salt and pepper.  And we grilled them instead of pan-frying.
But the sauce and the buns?   Completely homemade AND they made this burger--so dang good I can't even tell you.  Words can't describe it.
It did indeed remind me of the old Drive-In's of the 60's.    WHICH I only remember going to with my parents.   In the 70's, when my teenage friends and  I where hopping around to burger joints, it was  the beginning of the fast food craze.  McDonalds was new,  (to us anyway--it was expanding west)  Burger King and Wendys were just barely creeping to the west coast. So we were very excited about those.  But they don't really bring back the great food memories of the past.  We had one local place that we loved.   We had Zips! (see original Zips post here )
This Cooks Illustrated recipe is more similar to Zips than to any fast food mega-drive in of today, but as I said, it really reminds me of those old highway joints of the 1960's.

I used this recipe for my homemade hamburger buns.    (okay, I got it from Brenda at BCK, but I am feeling like a stalker, or someone who has a blogger crush, because I  use  her name in every other post I do.  She makes good stuff tho, so what can I say?)

I had never made homemade buns before, but I definitely will again.  One, because they were endorsed so highly by the Handyman  (mphmmfly  grrraate bunzzz) and two, they were REALLY GOOD BUNS.  Processed white buns?  Never again.  These were soft and tasted fresh and all  homemadey  (words like homemadey are why I'll never make it as a food writer)  And they went so well with the  classic sauce and burgers!
I might even make all the hot dog buns for our annual  "Weiner-Fest" bbq at the end of the summer.   Maybe.  That's a lot of buns to make.

I really feel like anyone who actually wants to grind their own hamburger mixture is working too hard....but it probably tastes great!
Here is what you do if you want to work: (me?  I just used store bought)

10 oz sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 oz boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
kosher salt and  pepper

Place beef chunks on baking sheet in single layer--freeze meat  until very firm and starting to harden around edges, but still pliable,  15-25 minutes.
Place half of meat into a food processor and pulse until meat is coarsely ground, 10-15 one-second pules, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure meat is evenly ground.  Transfer to baking sheet, repeat with other half.
Spread meat over baking sheet and inspect for gristle or fat.
Gently separate ground meat into 4 equal parts and without picking meat up, gently shape into a loose patty.  Season top of patty with salt and pepper.  Using spatula turn and season the other side. Refrigerate.

Pan fry when ready, cook without turning for  3 minutes one side,  1 minute the other side.  Top with American Cheese and cook for another minute.  Transfer to buns,  top with onion and spread on sauce. 

Now for the rest of us.... season your burger meat however you want.  I used season salt and a bit of garlic and pepper and the Handyman grilled them on the grill, he topped them with the Colby cheese and let it melt till it bubbled.

We took our homemade buns and melted some butter in a pan and toasted the buns, which I highly recommend to get that old timey  drive-in taste,  slathered the buns with the classic sauce and added onion.  Walla Walla Sweet Onions.

The Classic Burger Sauce
I doubled this, so that we had enough.  You never know!

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.



bermudaonion said...

My husband would probably love your buns too. :-) I'm afraid of yeast, so I probably won't try them.

Kelly @ Eat Yourself Skinny said...

These look delicious! :)

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Your buns are beautiful indeed. I'll have to make these. Thanks.

MM said...

Hamburgers! You speak my language! Sometimes a good, honest, simple burger just hits the spot and is so much more welcome than a fancy-pants one.

For what it's worth, I think your buns are real beauties.

Brenda said...

LOL LOL! You know you can stalk me anytime! :o) I'm so mad at myself for NOT making these buns yesterday when I had burgers. We hated the storebought ones, I mean hated them (yuck). I will most likely never ground my own meat but I will definitely make your burger sauce!! Delish! You know I'm always up for a good burger. In fact when I make it to your neck of the woods I expect burgers and wine. :o)

Brenda said...

I meant to say I'll never GRIND my own meat, not ground. Sigh.....

Karen said...

Are you *sure* the handyman wasn't talking about, ahem... your "buns"??? You took some really great pictures and the buns look so good. I don't remember about your wienerfest, so am going to read about that. I bet a hamburger bun recipe would be good as hot dog buns, too!

Jolina said...

I had the best burger while we were in Baltimore (Kooper's Tavern, Fells Point), and thanks to you my little foodie friend - I took a picture of it! (posted on Facebook) I love a restaurant that still asks how you want it cooked. My girls of course, were like deer in headlights because they had no idea how to order! They also had a lamb burger on the menu, and some other amazing food. My "Elvis Sings the Blues" burger and my sampler plank of local beer . . . I was in heaven.

~~louise~~ said...

YOU made your very own buns! Congratulations!!! They look gorgeous!!! I've always wanted to try my hand at making hamburger buns. I can't stand the ones from the store. I'd love to bake hot dog rolls too. You know the kind where the dog lays flat in the bun and it hugs it ever so gently. Ah...

Thanks for sharing, Debbie...

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