Over the last month, I feel like I’ve departed from my normal eating habits. It wasn’t a conscious decision but rather more a shift resulting from our recent activities. Since the 4th of July, we’ve traveled, had kids in our home and now we have friends visiting for a week. From all this hustle and bustle has come the need to prepare easy meals and also to cater to our guests’ food wants.
I hasten to add that everything leading up to today has all been fun and I wouldn’t change a thing, but this revelation came to me as I dug into my third cheeseburger in as many weeks. While this may not seem like a lot to some, for me this is record-breaking. I typically eat a burger two, maybe three times a year. Beef dishes are not part of my regular rotation at home (as much as I love them), mainly so I can manage our cholesterol intake. Never mind that since I’ve started this blog, eggs and butter have had the highest turnover rate in my refrigerator.
But how could you deny yourself a good burger? When done right, they’re just plain delicious. The crisp grill marks on the outside hiding the juicy, still partially red, meaty goodness inside is just perfect for me. And I enjoy burgers with various accompaniments: Gorgonzola cheese, sautéed mushrooms and/or onions, bacon. More often, though, I prefer mine prepared the way my mother always made them when I was growing up: Simple with the traditional fixings of mayo, ketchup, sometimes mustard, sometimes pickles, but always with tomato, onion and cheese. A lightly toasted bun tops off a great burger that I can polish off in no time.
I love the way my mother prepares her meat mixture and I realize that it’s probably the way your mother prepares hers, too. Could it be why I like it so much? As I get older I find myself more drawn to the simple flavors I grew up with. My mother’s cooking was no-frills but always hit a home run with the family. Please note that even though I refer to her cooking in the past tense, she’s still alive and well. It’s just that after her three girls left home to be on their own, my mother passed the cooking torch to my father who happily accepted it (our taste buds are not complaining either). Now my mother cooks mainly to delight the family (extended family included) by making everyone’s special requests.
The stars of my mother’s burger recipe are Worcestershire sauce and chopped onions. The Worcestershire sauce adds the proper zing to the meat and I think the onions lend to a juicier burger. She also adds bread crumbs and egg to bind the mixture together. It’s a classic preparation, right? Why mess with good thing, I say.
Now if I could only learn not to overestimate food quantities. I bought enough beef to make 20 1-cup size patties for a small gathering. I still have enough patties in the freezer for another occasion. I’ve filled my yearly burger quota, for sure!
Note: Food52 is having a contest this week for “Your Best Beef Burger”. There are several unique and delicious-sounding submissions but I couldn’t resist submitting my version of the classic. I’ve been wanting to enter one of their contests for sometime now and this week the stars aligned. Check out the recipes for this week’s contest, including one from my foodie friend, Sippity Sup.
My Mother’s Classic Burger
- About 4 pounds ground beef (good for at least 8 or more large burgers)
- 1/2 finely chopped onion
- A few stems chopped chives, optional
- Several dashes Worcestershire sauce
- Few tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- Salt and Pepper
- Accompaniments: Hamburger Buns, tomato slices, onion slices, ketchup, mayo, mustard, sharp cheddar cheese slices
Mix the top seven ingredients in a large bowl. Shape meat mixture into patties. I use a measuring cup to help me. A one-cup measuring cup will make a substantial burger. Grill according to desired doneness and assemble with your favorite accompaniments.