Building the Proper Burger.


This is another in a long line of Burger Rants I’ve done over the years, both verbal and in text.  When it comes to the All-American Hamburger I consider myself a burger extropianist (the opposite of a nihilist) – extropianism encourages getting the most out of life, a nihilist doesn’t care about anything.  I care about educating my fellow man on how to build the proper burger.  With that being known, here’s how I feel about the subject and some Do’s and Don’ts.

1.  Grind your own meat if possible.  Use sirloin or chuck or rib meat making sure there is enough fat left on it.  I shoot for a 90/10 ratio.

2.  Never freeze your ground beef.  Buy only enough to use “fresh”.

3.  Never add anything to ground beef such as onions or mushrooms or spices or fillers (Oh, the humanity of it all).  If you do then you have Salisbury Steak or Meatloaf, not a hamburger patty.

4.  Griddle your patty in a pan or a flat top.  Do not charbroil on a grill or BBQ unless you want dried out, carbonized meat.  I happen to like the taste of a BBQ’d burger, but that style is secondary to the griddle method.

5.  Leave off the bacon, the avocado, the fruit, the deli meat, the exotic dressings or anything else that muddles the flavor of good ground beef and makes the burger too messy to actually pick up and shove in your mouth.

6.  Use small, cheap hamburger buns and toast them in a pan first.

7.  For a Double Cheese Burger, weigh out 2 1/2 ounce portions and smash into a 1/4 inch patties.  You’ll need two patties and two slices of cheese.

8.  Make your own hamburger dressing as good as In N Out’s.  Ketchup, mayonnaise, a tiny amount of mustard, pickle relish, salt, and pepper.  I prefer dill pickle relish, you can use sweet if you like.

9. Build your burger as follows (from the bottom up):  Toasted bun, burger dressing, shredded iceberg lettuce, ripe tomato slice, slivered white onions, patty, cheese, patty, cheese, crispy fried shallots, mayonnaise, toasted bun.  Serve dill pickles on the side.  Use plain old American cheese.

10.  Cook the patties medium.  Season lightly with salt and pepper while cooking.





I may not be a nihilist about this, but I am a confessed, card-carrying Burger Nazi (similar to the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld).  If I owned a small burger joint, I would throw anyone out and ban them for 2 years if they ordered their burger other than as described above.

I peruse food sites and find it interesting looking at so-called Best Burger Recipes…not one of which uses the KISS method.  All loaded up and piled on with so much disjointed, off-the-wall crap they are not appealing in the least.

Of course, instead of subjecting yourself to all of this rigamarole, you could just go to In N Out Burger...but where’s the fun in that?

A Southwestern Style Corn Chowder

I’ve made many versions of Corn Chowder over the years.  It’s a simple dish I wanted to spice up a bit. The Southwestern comes from the use of chiles, paprika, cumin, and cilantro.

A few important suggestions – don’t use bullion cubes, use either canned or boxed broth or better yet (as I do) chicken stock…please, never use canned corn, use either fresh white corn cut off the cob or good frozen corn…and always season in stages with salt and pepper, you’ll find you won’t have to add any S&P at the end.  I use half and half here.  You can use whole cream if you want, it will certainly make it creamier.  I chose not to make a flour roux or slurry to thicken it, I left it a little thin.  Sometimes thickening with flour can muddle the flavors a bit. Also, if you want it spicier, use more jalapenos or serranos.



2 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped in small pieces
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion, 1/4 inch dice
3 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 tsp Chili powder
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium  jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed (about 2 tbsp)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tsp)
2 cups chicken stock (not bullion cubes)
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
3 cups fresh corn or frozen corn (not canned)
1/2 cup Velvetta – cubed
Jalapeño Crema

Jalapeno Crema: (stir together all ingredients)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Lime juice

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the bacon until crisp and browned and the fat is rendered. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel and reserve. There should be about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in pan.

Add the onions to pan. Saute until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the jalapeno and garlic and saute until fragrant, about  2 minute.  Add the corn. chopped romas, cumin, paprika, and chili powder, cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the chicken stock, simmer for 10 minutes.
At this point, either process it a bit with an immersion blender or remove half to a standing blender – either way, leave it a little chunky.

Add the half and half, heat through.  Add the cheese, simmer until melted. Taste, season.

Garnish with crumbled bacon, cilantro, and jalapeño Crema.