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The Great American Hamburger

The hamburger, char-grilled, flame-broiled, fried, covered with ketchup, smothered in onion, cheeseburger in paradise, big old tomato, filled with mushrooms, picnic favorite, cooking American style, fast food staple, I'll gladly pay you Tuesday, medium rare now that would be nice... Yes the hamburger is an American favorite bringing both old and young around the picnic table. But the origin may surprise you. Lets go back. Mongolian and Tartar warriors laid the groundwork for the modern hamburger. Now these guys would work up quite an appetite swinging swords and beheading folks. They also loved the taste of raw meat. They would take their steaks and lay them under the saddles of their horses, ride around on them all day while engaging the enemy or other marauding parties. Later the meat would be eaten raw having been tenderized by the saddle. Yuck! Thus the beginning of steak tartar and the beginning of the first step toward the burger. Now to Hamburg, Germany. This steak tartar got a little boost from the Germans in Hamburg, Germany when they would serve chopped meat that was lightly broiled and served raw. Does Hamburg Steak sound familiar? German immigrants would later bring this delight to New York in the early 19th century. The hamburger bun was created in the US and the marriage later produced the modern hamburger. The first widespread appearance of the hamburger was at the World's Fair in St Louis in 1904. The man responsible for the contemporary look of the hamburger as it is today was J Walter Anderson of White Castle, the oldest running hamburger chain today. Oh yea, and Wimpy didn't do a bad job himself boosting the burgers fame on Popeye. But enough history, lets talk about cooking a fresh, and I mean fresh burger. When you go to the grocery store you see all kinds of hamburger meat; ground hamburger which is a little of everything, ground chuck, and ground sirloin. Ground chuck and ground sirloin are taken from the appropriate steaks or roasts and simply ground. These tend to be leaner but you have to watch them closely or they will dry out. What I want to discuss with you today is making our own hamburger fresh. First we are going to need some chuck or sirloin, or a little of both. Take 16 ounces of either or 8 ounces of both and place in a food processor. Using the pulse button apply a pulse for a total of 10 times. Now take the mixture and apply some kosher salt. Salt brings out the flavor of beef. You can use other seasonings, but try this first you will be surprised. Then lets get the grill hot. If you are using charcoal try some mesquite, excellent flavorizer for beef. What we want to do is cook these burgers with the least amount of flipping as necessary. Flipping, although fun, typically dries out the meat. Try to cook about 5 minutes on each side. I suggest done burgers, nothing rare. Tartar, now that is for somebody else. Then get out your usual condiments and have fun, but try some without anything first so you can pick up on the flavor.


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