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« Messy Meals | Main | A Fall Outing in the Country, with Doughnuts »

How to Dress a Burger

My burger at the Beach Café in San Francisco

By Lori Powell

I love burgers for so many reasons. They are super-delicious, juicy patties that you can dress up or down, depending on your mood and what you might have on hand.

You can easily make a burger for just one or two pretty quickly.  If you want to maximize the cost savings from larger packages, just break down the amount you need for one meal and freeze the remaining meat in small packages so that you are good to go next time.

Burgers can be eaten at any meal occasion. You could make a sausage burger with a fried egg on a biscuit for breakfast. For dinner, make  a meatloaf burger and finish with baked-on ketchup. Grilled or pan fried, use an instant-read thermometer to judge the meat’s doneness.

The Accessories

The bread or roll (or lack-of): I do love a softer, toasted seeded roll for the usual burger, but an English muffin or biscuit makes a good bun, too.  Or you can just put the burger atop salad, grilled veggies or couscous and skip the bun. I still prefer the bun-type burger to hold all of my varied condiments in place.

The cheeses: Swiss, Cheddar, mozzarella, feta, blue cheese, pepper jack, or smoked cheeses for a barbecue version are just a few to cheeses to choose from.
My favorite type of burger is made with a combination of pork and beef. To grind your own meat, cube pieces of pork and beef and place in the freezer until firm, about 20 minutes. Then pulse in a food processor with desired spices, onion, and herbs.

The condiments: There are way too many to list here, but I’ll suggest a few:

  • Onions: pickled, raw for crunch or grilled
  • Pickles: sour dill, relish, or bread and butter, jalapenos – well just about anything pickled
  • Lettuces: crisp to withstand the heat, such as iceberg, romaine, and green or red leaf
  • Store bought: aside from the usual ketchup, mustard and mayo, try pesto, horseradish sauce, pepperoncini, roasted peppers, sautéed mushrooms, tapenade, salsa, Russian dressing, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, hot or sweet pepper relish

Below is my favorite quick pickle that goes well with any burger, as well as many sandwiches and salads.


Quick Pickled Red Onions
Prep: 15 minutes;  Chill: 1 hour

¾ cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoons salt
2 red onions, cut into rings

Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add onions. Let onions cool in liquid. Use immediately or keep covered and chilled until ready to use, for up to 2 weeks.

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