Burgers have been undergoing a bit of renaissance of late, with gourmet versions making the meat-in-a-bun option a rather respectable dining choice.
Seeing as this week marks National Burger Day – not to mention the height of BBQ season – this seems like a good time to pay tribute to the meat-feast.
I say meat, but one of the happy consequences of the burger renaissance is the growing popularity of veggie versions. Falafel patties are now commonplace as a no-meat alternative, as are more adventurous choices like portabella mushroom and peach burgers.
It won’t come as a surprise that the birthplace of the burger is America, though it was Danish immigrant Louis Lassen who was truly responsible. And as with all good food tales, the creation was half-accident, half-ingenuity.
Lassen, who owned a small lunch wagon in Connecticut, was perhaps one of the original street food vendors when he came up with the burger in 1900. Having run out of steaks to offer hungry, rowdy sailors, he quickly gathered up ground beef trimmings, formed them into a patty before grilling and placing between slices of toast. And thus was born the hamburger.
Nowadays, there’s a vast array of burger choices on offer – from the sublime and gourmet right down to the, well, not so good.
So what makes a good burger? The beauty of the dish really is its versatility in catering for a multitude of tastes – for those who prefer something hot and spicy, to those who prefer something a little more traditional.
Meat choices vary – steak, mince beef or chicken are all standard but the more carnivorous of us don’t have to look far to find options like wild boar or buffalo.
Cheese, pickles and condiments are all a personal choice and any decent burger bar will pay close attention to the bread bap as well as the filling. Personally, I love the sweetness of a brioche bun.
But of course I’m going to say this: whatever you choose, top quality ingredients are vital, never more so that when you’re dealing with what is essentially a pretty simple dish. Good quality, organic meat is central, and fresh, crisp salad is a must.
And of course, there’s only one way to finish it all off, especially on a hot, summer’s day: an ice cold beer. Cheers!