There’s hardly a more crowd-pleasing story for newspaper food sections than burgers.
And the timing couldn’t be better than in summer.
Back in 2007, we solicited readers’ favorite recipes for an August burger spread, following the lead of larger media organizations that expend no small effort on writing about and photographing burgers. Because bigger often is better, A la Carte has showcased these over-the-top burgers for one edition over each of the past five summers.
The Associated Press’ 20 burgers of summer were featured in 2010, following its 2009 tips from celebrity chefs. For the past three years, it’s been the outcome of the Los Angeles Times’ Battle of the Burgers reader recipe contest.
Unfortunately for home cooks, the contest’s recipes keep getting more and more complicated as entrants attempt to stand out in a field of hundreds of submissions. Not that they aren’t worth your time, just maybe not when you’d rather be kicking back with a cold one on the precious days remaining in summer, rather than sweating it out in the kitchen.
That’s good reason to try the Chicago Tribune’s recent burger recipes, really just regionally inspired variations on the classic American burger. And inexplicably (because they can?), the paper’s food staff even created a cocktail-inspired burger.
Here is the basic recipe with “mix-ins” and “top-withs.”
In a bowl, lightly mix together 2 pounds ground chuck, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Divide meat into 8 equal pieces. Form into patties. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill burgers, flipping just once, to desired doneness. Makes 8 servings.
Mix in: 8 cooked-until-crisp bacon strips, crumbled, and 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped. Top with: 2 tablespoons of favorite barbecue sauce, warmed slightly, and a big dollop of coleslaw.
Mix in: 1/3 cup molasses (or 1/3 cup dark Chinese soy sauce). Top with: 1 thick slice of cheddar cheese each, as burgers grill. Place cheeseburgers on buns; top with a squirt of Dijon-style mustard, 1 or 2 tablespoons baked beans and a pickle slice.
Mix in: 1/3 cup gin (choose one with a strong juniper flavor) or 2 tablespoons crushed juniper berries. Add a splash of dry vermouth. Top with: sliced green pimento- or blue cheesed-stuffed olives. Substitute pickled onion slices for a Gibson burger.