Thursday, September 5, 2013


Growing up in Chicago during the 1950's and 60's we didn't go out to eat often. When we did go out it was for hot dogs, hamburgers, or chicken. I'm going to pass over the famous Chicago-style hot dog for now and jump right to the subject of hamburgers. Not your run of the mill fast-food hamburgers mind you. I'm talking about old fashioned mom and pop style hamburgers or cheeseburgers here.
2 ounce portions 80/20 ground chuck
When I was a much younger man I worked as a short order cook in the snack shop of a large retail store. At lunch we served a lot of hamburgers to shoppers and employees who only had about 30 minutes to eat. I would throw 30 burgers on the grill, cook them to rare, and then place them in a hot tub of beef and onion broth that was sitting on the slightly cooler side of the grill. When customers ordered a burger we simply took one from the broth and threw it on the charbroiler to finish cooking them with those fancy grill marks. They not only looked good, they tasted good. The true meat taste was lost in the hot tub. 
Roll out burger
Old-fashioned burgers are not perfect circles, they are hand crafted
Ideally to make old-fashioned burgers you need a flat top grill. Since most people don't have one of those in their home, a scorching hot, flat top cast iron griddle will do. If the griddle is hot enough, you should hear the sizzle when the meat comes in contact with the griddle. The more meat that comes in contact with the griddle the more crust you will develop. Crust = texture and flavor. You're going to need some good buns.When it comes to hamburger buns, almost every fast food restaurant, lunch counter, or diner where I lived used S. Rosen's, Mary Ann buns. These buns are available at local grocery stores,
S. Rosen's Mary Ann 4 Inch Plain Hamburger Buns
INGREDIENTS (Yield: 4 double burgers)
1 lb. ground chuck 80/20
to taste salt and pepper
8 slices of cheese (your choice)
1 medium onion, diced or rings (optional)

Measure out the meat into 2 ounce portions. You should get eight 2 ounce thin patties from one pound of meat. Meat can get mushy if formed with your hands, so place each portion in-between two pieces of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the meat until circular in shape and about 1/8 inch thick. You can also press down on the meat with a plate to get a uniform thickness. Once all of your burgers are formed keep them cold. Don't overwork the meat.
Scorching hot griddle
Heat the griddle until scorching hot. When dropping the hamburgers on the griddle you should hear the sizzle as soon as the meat comes in contact with the heated griddle. This will begin to develop the crust on side 1 of the hamburger. I always keep some chopped or grilled onions on hand when making burgers.   
Adding onions to the griddle adds moisture and flavor to the hamburgers. Add them to the place on the griddle where you will be flipping the burger to cook side 2. 

When you place the burger on top of the onions, the steam from the onions and the heat of the griddle will help cook side 2 of the burger.    

Time to flip the burger
Add white cheddar cheese
Gooey melted cheese on burgers
A good old-fashioned cheeseburger
A genuine old-fashioned cheeseburger or hamburger should be served on a butter toasted bun with onions, mustard, ketchup, and dill pickle slices. Serve with French fries or tater tots. 
Why not tell me about your favorite old-fashioned hamburger or cheeseburger. 

TMelle 2013

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My two favorites are stuffed bleu cheese burger or slathered with grilled mushroom and onion topped with Swiss cheese, Oh,yeah baby!