that perfect burger

i admit, i absolutely love trying new dishes. whether at a restaurant, someone’s home, or just playing around in my own kitchen, i love finding new combinations of flavors and textures in food. with the exception of bananas (and i know that if i’m serious about becoming a food critic, i’ll have to start trying to get over that particular avoidance), i’m rarely afraid to branch out and find something new to taste.

but sometimes, i don’t feel like experimenting. i get a craving, and just want to meet it. enter the perfect burger.

i’ve had a lot of different takes on the classic american dish, some more traditional than others. onion rings, bacon and blue cheese, jalapenos, barbecue sauce (although which to choose is another entry entirely), garlic and onion, portobello mushrooms…one of the best things about burgers is how many different ways to make them. i even read about a restuarant in cambridge that serves burgers any way you want, including with fried eggs, coleslaw, and chili.

but when i make a burger at home, i don’t like them too fussy – just full of flavors, well-cooked, and usually very messy. i never measure ingredients, so this isn’t a true recipe, but the following are some of my favorite ingredients for a yummy burger (and what i used when i made a few last night!)

worcestershire sauce
balsamic vinegar
fresh garlic
basil
oregano
salt and pepper
cubed sharp cheddar cheese

 

i live on the second floor of an apartment complex, so access to an outdoor grill is possible but very annoying. and how can i watch mad men while i cook if i’m outside? instead, i use a calphalon grill pan to cook the burgers. it’s great for fish, chicken and even vegetables too.it’s not quite the same as grilling over charcoal, but until i have a backyard and a real grill it’s the best i can get.
i always try to let the beef marinate with the worcestershire and seasonings for at least an hour before i form the burgers. i like to chop a block of cheese up (i really love chipotle and pepper jack cheese, but my husband prefers sharp cheddar…but some of the best burgers i ever made were with basil and brie) and mix it in with the beef, rather than putting slices on top. i like finding melting cheese inside my burger.
i like my beef rare, but unfortunately i haven’t perfected cooking rare burgers on this grill pan. steve prefers his medium rare, which is a lot easier.
i serve my burgers on ciabatta rolls instead of regular ones – they’re much more difficult to eat, but worth the work for the crunchy texture and sourdough-like flavor. i toast the rolls lightly and slather them with guacamole and a delicious fresh salsa from trader joe’s that’s more like a pico de gallo. this recipe is great with crispy bacon, but i forgot it at the store.
i served with mccain’s smiley fries, because i was in a bad mood. yum!
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