Monday, July 18, 2011

Solving the gourmet burger paradox

1 pound ground beef
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¼ breadcrumbs and breadcrumbs for coating
1 egg
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1-2 serrano peppers

From the bottom of my heart do I love that first bite of a great burger, primordially satisfying like few other foods. You use your hands to grab it, trying to hold everything in place while hot grease and sauces are running down your fingers and expectation is building up as your teeth finally sink into it, cutting through the layers of bread and maybe the crunchiness of some vegetables until they find the juicy delicacy of meat, a symphony of different flavors exploding on your taste buds.

A couple of weeks ago however, I read a most devastating review of a cookbook dedicated to gourmet burgers, declaring there to be an inherent paradox in a gourmet burger, the taste of bread and condiments overpowering everything else.

So I thought to myself, why not take up this challenge and try out a sophisticated meal featuring a burger that in itself was so full of different flavors to compensate for toppings and bread? The result of my experiments are the following:

To make a sophisticated burger, I decided I needed an equally sophisticated ‘theme’ instead of my usual way of just tossing things randomly together, and I settled on respectable cilantro and honorable serrano peppers. Despite my sincere efforts of keeping the burger haute-cuisine, somehow the next step of the process revered back to my usual mixing everything together (beef, red wine, egg, onion, garlic, cilantro and serrano peppers) and I got some very inappropriate enjoyment out of kneading everything with my bare hands. A quick note on the breadcrumbs - use only half of them at this step and keep the rest in a little bowl.

Then, I started heating some oil in my very solemn and dignified looking cast iron pan that I considered up to the task and, in a technique that reminded me very much of handling play dough as a child, went on to form little burgers that were submerged from all sides into the rest of the breadcrumbs and then put into the hot oil. The time required in the pan obviously very much depends on the size and thickness of your burgers, I left mine in for around 8 minutes, flipping them several times.

By now, I can already feel your impatience, asking yourself - so how did they measure up and more importantly, did you solve the paradox of a gourmet burger? Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you at this point, dear reader. The burgers turned out very well, juicy and their meatiness complemented by a variety of other flavors. We had them beautifully arranged with lovely home baked fries, didn’t even miss the taste of bread and eating them with fork and knife, it all felt extremely civilized and cultured. Gourmet? Yes, maybe. But that’s not what burgers are about. They are one of the last foods to satisfy our primordial selves, and that’s what I am going to stick with in the future.

Life is good!


  1. These look good! And wine in burgers??...yes please!

  2. I'm sorry you didn't solve the paradox once and for all but these do sound delicious!


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