Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What's in a hamburger?

A couple weeks ago, we were eating out at White Spot, and they were featuring some of their new menu items.  One of which was a new sandwich of the hamburger variety that boasted a patty that was half traditional hamburger meat, and half bacon.  Now, you can say what you want about the ubiquity of bacon fanaticism, but my thought was really more about the concept of the hamburger itself.  This past weekend, I tried a sandwich that was supposed to be a hamburger patty wrapped up in a very small pepperoni pizza--think like a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  The next night, we went to Red Robin, and I order the Red Robin Royale Burger.  The common factor among all three is that they were pretty tasty, but what made them special was the toppings.  See, for all the hype of a patty that was half-bacon, it tasted no different than a regular hamburger patty.  This is mainly because when you simply cook bacon for the simplest of bacon bits, there's a great risk you slightly overcook it, and when you do, it tastes almost the same as ground beef.  Slather on toppings that have pronounced flavors of their own, and you can't tell the difference.  This is also why I don't bother ordering ground beef as a pizza topping, or bacon, because those baked crumbles have little flavor by that point and just fall off and make a mess.

And that's not even considering that ground beef is pretty flavorless when cooked.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe it's because I worked at McDonald's for four-and-a-half years and have been rendered incapable of tasting beef from both cooking it and eating them for so long.  But I find that hamburgers in general are only worth ordering if you like the taste of the toppings.  It's not like a good steak, where you can pick off onions and ask the chef to go easy on the pepper if you don't like those things.  Oh sure, on the odd occasion that I still order a McDonald's double cheeseburger, I still get it without the onions, but if I also hated ketchup and pickles, and couldn't tolerate mustard, I'd really have no reason to eat one.  Hamburger meat by itself, just isn't that big a culinary treat.  Now you can make some good sloppy joes and meatloaf, and do not for a moment suppose that I'm including steak and prime rib, or even pot roast in this conversation; but at this point, a hamburger is just a meat slab between buns, and whatever toppings and sauces you find tasty.  

I'm no culinary expert, so I can only surmise that ground beef is the least of all beef cuts and that the grinding process only makes them worse.  They're still passable, but the point is, really, stop trying to "revolutionize" the hamburger.  The only way to really revolutionize it is basically convert uncooked meatloaf into patties and grill 'em that way.  And even then, no guarantees that that would work.  The hamburger's pretty good the way it is.  Of the three I mentioned at the beginning, the Royale is easily the tastiest.  

Mainly because one of the toppings is a sunny side-up egg.