The burger, redefined New twists on a summertime favorite
By Scott Jones
AMERICA HAS A long-standing love affair
with the hamburger. Whether fresh off the
griddle at a mom-and-pop diner or served
on fine china in the toniest of settings, burgers are a classic comfort food and summer
Driven by the local food movement and
the melding of ethnic flavors and cultures, a
new breed of boutique, burger-centric restaurants has popped up all over the country.
You’re as likely to find a Spanish-inspired
patty topped with chorizo sausage and a
fried egg as you are to see one made with
wagyu beef stuffed with pimento cheese.
Yet, as devoted as we are to our favorite
burger joint, some folks struggle to re-create
that experience at home. Kelsey Nixon, star of
Cooking Channel’s Kelsey’s Essentials,
recommends using 80/20 ground chuck. The 20
percent fat in the blend adds flavor and helps
retain moisture. Another favorite burger
option is fresh ground beef.
Nixon has a few other tenets for mastering a homemade burger: Loosely form patties of equal thickness to keep from
overworking the meat and make a quartersize dimple in the middle of each patty to
maintain a flat shape while cooking; once the
burgers are on the grill or in the pan, turn
them just once, and do not smash them, as
that releases all the juicy goodness.
patties with lentils, chickpeas or black beans.”
He says the key to vegan, legume-based burgers is to add just enough bread crumbs to give
the patties the same firmness as meatloaf so
they’ll hold up on the grill. Vegetarians can
add an egg along with bread crumbs to help
bind the ingredients.
If you’re stuck in a toppings rut, shift
gears with tasty options such as avocado
slices, basil leaves, arugula, crispy pancetta or
pickled carrots. “Burgers are like a blank canvas; you can go in all sorts of flavor directions
with toppings and condiments—just have
fun,” urges Nixon. Stir together homemade
flavor boosters such as wasabi mayonnaise,
Sriracha sauce, hot sauce or chipotle barbecue
sauce. Premade Mediterranean gems—think
hummus and tzatziki—are terrific too.
Let your creativity carry over to the buns.
There’s a wide range of choices, including brioche, pretzel dough and sourdough. And don’t
overlook options like pita, focaccia or white
bread. If you’re into sliders, Hawaiian-style
sweet rolls are a tasty option. For a crunchy,
healthier “bun,” wrap your burger in a few
pieces of bibb lettuce.
Whatever combo you choose, experiment with a variety of tasty twists on this all-American treat. You’ll definitely up the fun
factor at your next party and create big-flavor
burgers friends and family will love. C
Custom-Blend Beef Patty
Melt with Pimento Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Kelsey Nixon
10 ounces ground sirloin
6 ounces ground beef short ribs
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
8 slices (½ inch thick) rye bread,
buttered on one side
66 The Costco Connection AUGUST 2013
Where’s the beef?
Burgers don’t have to stop with beef. With
the availability of so many ground meat
options—everything from bison and pork to
turkey and lamb—there’s no end to the
regional and global flavor twists.
Want to go meat free? “It’s simple to make
your own vegetarian or vegan burgers,” affirms
Costco member Roberto Martin, author of
Vegan Cooking for Carnivores (Grand Central,
2012). Martin, who is also Ellen DeGeneres’
personal chef, approaches his signature veggie
burgers in a number of ways: “I can go with
straight vegetables, like thick slices of eggplant
and/or portobello mushroom, or I’ll make
Scott Jones ( www.jonesishungry.com) is a
food, wine and travel writer.
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses carry toppings, buns,
rolls and bread, a variety of fresh and frozen
ground beef as well as other meats, plus
non-meat options such as eggplant, portobello mushroom and more for creating your
own ultimate burger. Costco.com also offers
certified organic prairie-grass-fed USDA
ground beef and Kobe-style wagyu burgers.
HOMEMADE PIMENTO CHEESE
8 ounces sharp cheddar,
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
3½ ounces jarred pimentos,
drained and diced
1 garlic clove, grated
Dash of hot sauce