JAMES BEARD liked his at home fried in butter after, that is, mixing in a little heavy cream. Richard Nixon likes his at Manhattan's 21 Club, "black and blue" -- burned on the outside and rare in the center. (He is said to pay $21 for the privilege.)
Wimpy, on the other hand, that great derby-clad comic figure, would eat his any way. And he'd cheerfully run up a tab to do it.
Happy Birthday Hamburger.
Happy Birthday -- maybe -- because there's more than a little confusion here.
According to the National Livestock and Meat Board, a trade association that you'd think would know, 1989 is the 100th birthday of America's favorite sandwich. The board bases its claim on the fact that the word "hamburger" first appeared in the Walla Walla (Wash.) Union on Jan. 5, 1889 -- that fact is attested to in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Mmmmm. Maybe yes and maybe no. The story around here is that the hamburger made its debut in 1885. At a fair in Hamburg, N.Y., no less. Supposedly, a concessionaire, Frank Menches by name, started to cook chopped beef patties on the grill when a local supplier ran out of pork sausage.
He named this creation after the village -- which in turn had been named for a city in Germany.
Other experts say that chopped beef on a bun originated at a fair all right but it was the Chicago World Fair. A different contingent insists it was St. Louis.
Wherever it came from, whatever the circumstances, the hamburger remains America's favorite sandwich. And of course, it seems to taste its very best in the summertime.
So on this Memorial Day we present two recipes to chew upon -- the classic grilled burger and one that can be prepared with a contemporary twist -- garnished with a pepper/olive oil mixture.
Our third recipe is even more contemporary. It utilizes ground turkey instead of meat -- a good way to cut down on fat and cholesterol.
CLASSIC GRILLED BURGERS
1pound ground beef (chuck or round)
Salt and pepper to taste
Shape ground beef into four 1/2 -inch-thick patties. Place patties on grid over medium coals. Grill 10 minutes for medium, or to desired doneness, turning once. Season with salt and pepper as desired after turning. Makes 4 servings.
THREE PEPPER BURGERS
1/2 cup short thin green bell pepper strips
1/4 cup short thin red bell pepper strips
1/4 cup short thin yellow bell pepper strips
dash dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1recipe Classic Grilled Burgers, see previous recipe
4onion rolls, toasted
4slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
Cook peppers, garlic and oregano in hot oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place Grilled Burgers on roll bottoms; top each with a cheese slice and an equal amount of pepper mixture. Cover with roll tops. Makes 4 servings.
1pound ground turkey
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup unflavored low-fat yogurt
4hamburger rolls, split and toasted
4curly lettuce leaves
4tablespoons coarsely grated peeled carrot
4tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
Gently mix ground turkey with 2 tablespoons of the parsley and the pepper. Shape into 4 patties, about 1-inch thick.
Grill or broil patties, approximately 4 inches from the heat, turning once, about 15 minutes or until done in the center.
Meanwhile, combine yogurt and remaining parsley; stir until blended.
Place a lettuce leaf on each roll. Put turkey on top of lettuce; top each with a tomato slice, some carrot, alfalfa sprouts and the yogurt. Serve immediately. Makes 4 burgers.