Dixie Burneister Column May 20, 2009

Building burgers for weekend cookouts

As we look forward to a long weekend of cookouts, baseball (JUCO) and relaxation, let us not forget it’s Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor and give thanks for the men and women who served and are serving our country.

My husband Fred and I will proudly fly our country’s flag and say “thank you.” Now, onto good ol’ American traditions.

What’s as American as baseball and hamburgers?

It’s time for both this weekend with National Hamburger Month humming along with burger facts, tips and delicious ideas to wow family and friends. So, get out the grill to kick off what I consider the official beginning of summer. Who cares what the calendar says?

Americans consumed approximately 11.9 billion burgers in 2007, and that number is continuing to grow.

The burger originated right here in the USA. According to Burger Facts, there are many claims as to who invented the burger. However, it’s widely accepted that Fletcher Davis from Athens, Texas, began selling a ground beef patty as his new idea sandwich that was first known as the “Pike” at the St. Louis World’s Fair Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904.

White Castle in Wichita, Kan., was the first quick-service restaurant to serve the burger in 1921 and it still serves them.

Years ago, I found “101 Burger Builders” from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Beef Association that proved “real guys and gals” have definitely expanded their burger repertoire.

Burgers are the No. 1 use of ground beef in the home. Sixty-five percent of hamburger lovers choose ketchup as a favorite condiment while 51 percent go for the mayo. Then there’s my favorite: mustards of all kinds.

Remember: Over-mixing makes for a tough burger. Do not press with spatula while grilling as this will cause a loss of juices resulting in a dry burger. Always cook to 160 degrees using an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally through the side of the burger.

OK, let’s build burgers from this updated 101 Burger list.

• Pepperoni Pizza Burger: grilled burger covered with pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce.

• Verde Burger: grilled ground beef mixed with seasoned garlic, topped with piquant Italian Verde sauce made with parsley, onions and capers.

• Caesar Burger: ground beef, seasoned with garlic and black pepper, on a crusty roll, accented with Caesar dressing, romaine lettuce and avocado slices.

• Bistro Burger: burger covered with caramelized onions, brie cheese and crisp bacon, served on a walnut bun.

• Blue Moon Burger : grilled burger topped with bleu cheese, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce and tomato served on an onion bun.

• Rowdy Reuben Burger : grilled beef patty smothered with melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and zesty coleslaw, served on marble rye.

• Thai-Cobb Burger: grilled ground beef served with avocado, tomatoes and bean sprouts, accented with a light peanut dressing.

• Trattoria Burger: grilled burger layered with roasted red bell peppers, pesto mayonnaise, and mozzarella cheese, served on focaccia bread.

• Cordon Bleu Burger: burger beneath a layer of sliced ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard.

• The Beefster: grilled burger topped with roast beef, horseradish and Muenster cheese, served on an onion roll.

• Lucky Burger: grilled beef burger on sesame rye bread, layered with hot-sweet mustard, prepared horseradish, sharp cheddar, green apple slices, red apple slices and sliced almonds.

• Tough Texan Burger: ground beef seasoned with hot sauce and dried red peppers, grilled and smothered with pepper cheese and barbecue sauce, served on thick Texas toast.

• Hawaiian Supreme: ground beef burger stuffed with crushed pineapple, topped with a candied apple slice and sweet & sour sauce.

• Dixie Burger (this one is mine): burger spread with refried beans, topped with guacamole, jalapenos, salsa, lettuce, onion, tomato and cilantro.


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