Labor Day is on the horizon, which means two things: first, the turning of the seasons, the inevitable chilling of the air, the beginning of the long journey toward and through winter… but also, enough summer is still left for at least one barbecue! And in my experience, barbecues mean one thing: burgers. I do, for the record know that hot dogs are totally a “thing,” but for now I will choose willful myopia and focus on the one of the two that is easier to put cheese on. Barbecues in general, and burgers in particular are the perfect summer food, because they are the perfect social food. They’re easy and quick to cook, everybody gets to be outside, everyone can dress theirs to their own liking… Sure, you might be indelicately stuffing your face, but guess what? So is errbody else.
Hands down, the best burger I ever had was a Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger in New Orleans at Yo Mama’s Bar and Grill. I was on a road trip with some of my best friends from school, and the six of us sat up on bar stools in front of an antique mirror staring at each other, ourselves, and this strange thing we had read about in our Lonely Planet guide book. We were young, we were brave, but we had asked someone to put peanut butter on a burger and in short, we were afraid. But all for naught! The richness of the beef, the salty crispness of the bacon, and the earthy sweetness of the peanuts… like I told you, it all blended together to make the Best Burger Ever. The company didn’t hurt either I have even recreated it on occasion–you might too, if you have the stirrings of courage in your heart. The recipe goes something like this: put both bacon and peanut butter on a burger (though it’s worth noting that the better quality the peanut butter, the better the burger).
Whether you’re feeling the peanut butter or the more conventional “slice of cheese,” burgers are undeniably a solid summer staple with endless variations.
Looking for a classic? Try Cara’s Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Charred Red Onions.
Want something with a twist? Go for the Pork Burgers with Fennel.
Vegetarian? Try these Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers.
Whichever you choose, gather your friends and ingredients, and for God’s sake, get outside before it starts getting cold out.
Chloe Carter Brown is a graduate of Williams College and if you think this is waxing poetic, you should see the epic love poems she has composed for french fries. Read more…
Super Simple Burgers
When it comes to burger meat, going with the leanest option can result in a serious compromise in taste. I’m all for being healthy but I recommend buying your ground beef with 18-22% fat. Don’t sweat it. You’re around people who love you and you look great.
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (or similar seasoning) to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Mix the ground beef and minced onions together in a bowl.
Grab a chunk and make it into a ball slightly smaller than a baseball. Then squish it into a patty using your thumbs to even the edges, making the center a little thinner since it will plump when it cooks.
Pat the salt (or other seasoning) and ground pepper on both sides of each patty.
Barbecue over hot coals for about 5 minutes. If cheese is desired, put it on the second side in the last 1-2 minutes.
Let cool for a few moments, then build your burger with you favorite burger accessories.