Fourth of July Hamburger Cook-Off | July 4, 2013

For our Independence Day celebration, my first son and I decided to do a hamburger competition. So for days, I’ve been thinking about this. The best burger I ever ate was made in a little cafe in my hometown back in North Carolina. You could tell each beef patty was made by hand. In North Carolina, slaw is a favorite topping on everything from hot dogs to hamburgers to barbecue sandwiches and this little cafe burger was no exception. Although the meat and bun were hot, the sweet cole slaw topping was cool and creamy. I’ve talked to friends from home about that burger just to see if my memory has blown it out of proportion, and they say no, that was a world class hamburger. I wish I knew what made it so special.

So for my entry, I used 80/20 ground beef, seasoned with a generous amount of salt and pepper and added chopped jalapeno chiles and Worstershire sauce. I made 1/4 pound patties, trying not to squeeze it or handle it too much so it wouldn’t be tough and compact. To cook them, instead of using the grill, I used an iron skillet because I figured the burgers of my youth were cooked on a flat top. Then I spread a little butter on the inside of both halves of my sesame seed bun and browned them under the broiler. After three minutes, I flipped the burgers and immediately placed a slice of American Cheese on top. Two minutes later, I placed a big lid over the whole pan to melt the cheese thoroughly, about another two or three minutes. Lid off, take the meat out of the pan and allow to rest five minutes.

Now I am going to reveal a secret sauce that you must keep under wraps. I mix mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup together to spread on the bun. Shh! Don’t tell everyone or they’ll all be doing it. (Wink, Wink to Emeril) Then, place the patty on the bun, a few well seasoned slices of avocado and two very thin slices of tomato. Top it with the other half of the bun and press down to make it all stick together. I also put a slice of crispy bacon on it, I forgot to mention. I thought it was delicious! On the side, we had baked beans and a few potato chips.

My son wasn’t quite as happy with his burger but he had some technical problems like the meat didn’t cook completely and the sauce he used was intended for fish tacos. However, it was a fun time and we both learned something. I was satisfied that I came close to having the burger of my dreams.


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