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Mushrooms add class to World's Fair favorite


July 20, 2005 - It's been years since I cooked a burger on the grill. Still, they may still rank as the thing I've cooked more often than any other item in my life.

I remember making potato salad and grilling burgers was a feast when I was in college. After you've been eating nothing but brown rice for weeks on end, anything is gourmet.

The burger below is quite a bit better tasting than those I made in college, mainly because I've begun using a mixture of meats and bread crumbs to hold in the meat's natural moisture.

In addition to mushroom burgers, I imagine you could make a variety of gourmet burgers from the basic meat mix. Adding spices like oregano or basil would give you one spin off, fresh fruits would be another, avocados with burgers could be called California burgers, how about a salsa additive for Mexican burgers, or a salsa verde for Tampico burgers, chocolate for Vienna Burgers, sauerkraut for Koenigsburgers, pineapple for Hawaiian burgersor mashed beans for Boston burgers?

Living in St. Louis I figure we can do anything we like to hamburger because, after all, we invented it for the 1904 World's Fair.

I still like my burgers with mustard next to whatever cheese I top them with and mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato under the patty.

French fries, onion rings or potato salad and baked beans are still the best sides for a meal with burgers.

Mushroom Burgers

Mushroom Sauce (see recipe below)

1 pound ground round

1 pound ground veal

1 pound ground pork

2 cups bread crumbs

3 shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, pressed

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Sliced Swiss cheese

Prepare mushroom sauce.

In a large bowl mix ground round, pork and veal with breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Use your fingers to mix the meat and don't be too rough with it or pack it too tightly. This behavior leads to a dryer, tougher burger.

I always try to keep little tears from happening around the edge of my hamburgers. That way they are less likely to split apart as I flip them on the grill with my spatula. I always try and make each patty the same thickness to ensure all my hamburgers cook evenly.

I like to show the burger the flame and then flip it, show the other side the heat and then return it to the original side. Why? It has been my experience that uncooked meat have a reaction to heat much like we would. We get burned, say ouch and recoil from whatever burned us.

I believe this practice keeps the meat from sticking and gives it just enough crust to keep juices in the burger.

A few minutes after you've flipped the burger for the last time put a slice or two of Swiss cheese on each patty. When it has melted your burger is done. Take it inside and soak it in the pan with the mushroom sauce.

Slather your base bun with mayonnaise, layer some lettuce, add a slice of tomato, your burger, the mushroom sauce and then mustard on the top bun. Serve with baked beans, potato salad and keep your hands away from my plate.

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