It may just be the Hope Diamond of hamburgers. In 2006, the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, New Jersey, created a glistening 28-inch wide, 11.5-inch thick, 105-lb. meaty, juicy beauty. Known as The Eighth Wonder of the World, this behemoth broiler trumped the diner’s previous record of a 50 lb. aptly named Mt. Olympus burger.
In 2010 in Sydney, Australia, a 184-lb. titanic patty found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the all-time heavyweight burger of the world, replete with roll, sauce, cheese, and a side salad. The following year, a buff 600-lb. burger tipped (perhaps broke?) the scales at California’s Alameda County Fair. Dressed with an additional 30 lbs. of lettuce, 20 lbs. of onions and 12 lbs. of pickles, and swathed in a 110-lb. bun, the 1,375,000-calorie lunch was reportedly enough to feed one person for two years (pass the Alka-Seltzer–and the running shoes).
With May designated as National Hamburger Month, and while size may not be the ultimate objective for most of us, celebrating the classic American ground round can take the form of happy hour sliders (originally monikered by the military for their interminable grease), brawny Big Macs, flavorful Fatburgers, or walloping Whataburgers .
In fact when U.S. geography informs gastronomy, a burger in Hawaii may come standard with teriyaki sauce. A Texas burger often treads beneath a spread of mustard and sliced jalapeno peppers. In Wisconsin, a pat of butter floating on top results in that state’s famous butter burger. Those in England, Scotland, and Ireland sometimes batter and fry their burgers, serving them with the U.K.’s ubiquitous chips (English fries, of course). And for the ultimate in luxury comestibles, more sophisticated–and expensive–sirloin, venison, bison or even Kobe beef burgers, perhaps accompanied by elements that include foie gras, truffles or aged gruyere, are offered at upscale eateries like New York’s Wall Street Burger Shoppe, with prices nearly comparable to a toney overnight NYC hotel stay (no kidding!).
But if dining out is not is not on the program, creating your own charbroiled, pan fried, or grilled meaty masterpiece at home is limited only by your imagination. While traditional toppers like ketchup, mustard, mayo, red onion, pickles or American cheese are tried-and-true favorites, why not go a little rogue with feta, goat, or bleu cheese, or even a fried or scrambled egg on top? Or how about a scoop of guacamole, a smear of barbecue sauce, or even some sweet tartar sauce? If you’re feeling really adventurous, spicy black beans, peanut butter, pineapple, horseradish, chopped portabella mushrooms, beets, roasted eggplant, caramelized onions, broccoli rabe, or fresh tahini will take your burger to brand new heights, with some ingredients like cheese, mushrooms, and beans lending themselves to fun family burgers by hiding them inside prior to cooking.
Finally, as a nation that increasingly seeks more healthful substitutes for red meat, easy tofu, veggie, whole portabella mushroom, and turkey burgers are savory alternatives and lighter fare, providing no less of a culinary canvas for creative and tasty toppings. As these options can sometimes be less flavorful than more robust beef, jettisoning everyday hamburger buns in favor of brioche, bagel, pretzel rolls, multigrain rolls, sourdough bread, or a crisp baguette can truly propel the palette.
Whatever your tastes, try these bursting burger recipes for a mouthwatering May – National Hamburger Month!
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1 (8 oz.) can pizza sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 oz. pepperoni, finely chopped
2 slices mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted
Combine bread crumbs, two tablespoon of pizza sauce, Parmesan cheese, and pepper. Add beef and pepperoni, mix well. Shape into 4 thick burgers; grill, fry or broil. Heat remaining pizza sauce. Cut cheese into strips, serve patties on toasted buns adding cheese and pizza sauce.
Feta Cheese and Olive-Stuffed Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Ground black pepper to taste
Hamburger, pumpernickel or multigrain rolls, toasted
condiments for topping
Preheat grill for medium high heat. In a large bowl, combine turkey, feta cheese, olives, oregano, and pepper. Form into patties. Lightly oil grill and place patties. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, turning halfway through. Place on toasted rolls and serve with condiments.
Vegan/Vegetarian Black Bean and Cornmeal Burgers
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup salsa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Hamburger rolls or sourdough bread, baguettes, etc., toasted
condiments for topping
Place beans in food processor; process until fairly smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, salsa, cumin, and garlic salt. Process until well combined. Spoon mixture into six balls on a large plate and refrigerate at least one hour or up to four hours before cooking.
Heat barbecue grill or ridged grill pan over medium heat. Coat grill or pan lightly with oil. Form each ball into a 4-inch patty about 1/2-inch thick. Place patties on grill or in pan and cook until browned and heated through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve on toasted rolls with condiments.