"Hi! Uncle Eddie here! Labor Day's coming up and I thought I'd post again about the best way to make a burger. The best burger I know of is John K's "Manly Cartoonist Burger." I put up the recipe way back in August of 2007.
Rather than print that all over again, I thought I'd discuss it side by side with Kenny Shopsin's burger theories. Shopsin wrote a cookbook that I'm perusing called "Eat Me," which features recipes from his famous New york restaurant. I thought you might find the contrast interesting."
"Um...a word of warning: burger theorists are feisty people. If John hears what he considers burger heresy, there's half a chance that he'll trash the place while I'm shooting."
"Okay, let's start! Well, to begin with, both cooks agree that you want ground beef that's 20-25% fat. Don't worry about the high fat content, it cooks away. John puts islands of chopped sirloin around the paddy so you get different flavor sensations with every bite, but the restaurant guy uses one type of meat overall.
John says add an egg (1 egg for 4 people), but don't compress the meat much when you put it in and never squeeze it, because that makes the cooking more difficult. It's good to have some air inside. A little pepper, chopped green onions, garlic, and chilli pepper, but never salt. Salt dries out the meat. If you want salt, add it after the burger's cooked."
"It's important to let the burger cook for five minutes undisturbed, except to turn it over at the midway point. You don't want to poke it more than necessary because that lets the juices escape."
"Well, John passionately insists that burgers have to be cooked on hot charcoal, with a lid on half the time . The restaurant guy says no...it has to be on a really hot, pre-heated iron frying pan with a lid. Charcoal and frying pan: that difference defines the two types of people that exist in the universe. I hope these guys never meet because they'd probably kill each other."
"Anyway, after 5 minutes the restaurant guy relies sticks a meat thermometer right in the middle of the burger. 120 - 125 degrees for rare, 140 - 145 degrees for medium."
"Okay, that leaves one more subject...the bun!"
"John says you need a fresh pastry shop bun, something with sesame or poppy seeds. The book recommends Martin's Potato Buns, which you can probably get at the supermarket.
Mmmm, I gotta give it to John on this one. You can't beat a nice, fresh Kaiser roll. Besides, the restaurant guy owns a business and he's gotta be tempted to cut corners."
"You put a little butter on the roll to help it toast better, and something on top of it to press it down on the pan. You only toast it lightly so it's soft on the inside and crispy on the outside."
"Now the burger is assembled and spatulaed onto a plate. You take it over to stove where mushrooms have been cooking in bacon grease. Ladle some mushrooms and bacon on, then move to the condiment table, which contains Romaine lettuce, pickles, raw radishes, celery and fresh onions."
"Here we go with the controversy again. John prefers his onions raw and juicy. He says that's because you need to feel a little pain with your pleasure. He slices the onion only when it's ready for use.
The restaurant guy likes his thin sliced and fried in peanut oil til they're a gnarly brown/black that don't even look like onions anymore.
"And that's it. As I said, John's Manly Cartoonist burger is the best I've ever had. It even looks good! Even so, I'll try Shopsin's burger next time I'm in New york. All this reminds me that a good burger is a thing of beauty. It's not given to man to lay his eyes on a better Labor Day meal!'
P.S. At the supermarket where I usually score my Kaiser rolls, they tell me that Poppy seeds have been discontinued on rolls. Kali's Dad speculates that even though the seeds can't get you high, they can put something in your system that responds positively to drug tests.
P.P.S. Vincent Waller ate at Shopsin's and describes it in a comment.
P.P.P. S. I'M OFF FOR THE WEEKEND! 'BE BACK MONDAY NIGHT!