Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hands Off the Hamburger

A truly disturbing trend is afoot — and the hamburger (right up there with apple pie as a symbol of America) is at risk of being trivialized or refined to death.

The following recipes are a case in point:

First, I give you the chicken cobb burger, a recipe with no fewer than 19 ingredients. It's posted on the They actually direct you to make a "vinaigrette" specifically for the romaine lettuce that will be placed on the burger.

Second, I give you the turkey burger with tapenade aoli. It's a recipe that includes such ingredients as capers, honey and chipotle pepper puree. Enough already.

Dressing up a hamburger with lots of exotic ingredients is like putting your beagle in a designer doggie outfit — it's plain ridiculous.

Yet some new-fangled burger recipes actually sound more exotic than they really are. Take the southeast asian style turkey burgers with pickled cucumbers, a recipe from Gourmet magazine. Why didn't they just say "with homemade pickles"? After all, isn't "pickled cucumbers" just a fancy-pants term for pickles?

Simplicity is underrated. When it comes to the great American hamburger, chefs (amateur or real) should tread lightly and quit devising all of these time-consuming, over-the-top recipes.

Making a hamburger according to a recipe with more than a dozen ingredients seems a little silly.

If you use the right beef and you fire up the grill, it's pretty hard not to make a good burger. It's a hamburger for crissakes — stop the fussing.

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