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Homemade burgers with a little TLC

You can go upscale without leaving home.Homemade hamburgers can be something special with a little TLC

Dad might wish he had a thick, juicy steak for Father’s Day, but have you looked at beef prices lately?

Last month, the Dayton Daily News reported that the average beef price in March reached a record $5.30 per pound — 15 cents higher than the previous record, set last November.

And steak, a prime cut, falls on the high end of beef prices-per-pound. Blame the drought in the West, blame the rising corn prices due to a run on ethanol (corn is what most large producers feed cattle). Blame what you will, but this all means that Dad might have to settle for second-best: a burger.

The thing is, burgers are getting swankier by the day. If you play your cards right, Dad might not feel like he’s getting second best at all.

Just look at local restaurant trends. The hot new dining sector is upscale burger joints — pricier than McDonald’s but cheaper than a steakhouse.

Smashburger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and EO Burgers are all examples of burger joints trying the snag the crowd that wants fancy food without the price tag. And those joints are changing people’s idea of what makes a good burger. It’s not just ketchup-mustard-pickles anymore. Think Smashburger’s Truffle Mushroom Swiss (truffle mayo, sauteed baby portabella mushrooms and aged Swiss on an egg bun).

But you don’t have to take Dad to a restaurant on Sunday. The good news is that burgers’ popularity is also being reflected in the publishing industry. There are several new burger cookbooks on the market. We consulted two of them. Well, only one is a technically a burger cookbook; the other is more of a general budget-meals cookbook, but it includes a burger recipe with a garlic sauce that’s too good for Dad to pass up.

Don’t forget to cook up a few fries on the side (see recipe).

Here’s hoping these hamburgers make your dad happy.


For sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil (or chives, parsley or mint)

1 scallion (white and green parts), trimmed and roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, quartered

½ teaspoon Worcestershire

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For burgers:

1-1/4 pounds 80 percent lean ground beef

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

4 hamburger buns

1 tomato, cored, thinly sliced and lightly salted

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

For sauce: Place sauce ingredients in bowl of food processor and puree until creamy and pale green. Transfer to small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

For burgers: Heat charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Divide ground beef into 4 equal pieces and gently form into patties. Use thumb to make a small indentation in the middle (this is so the burger grills flat and doesn’t contract and puff up on the grill). Brush both sides of burgers with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place burgers on grill and cook until they have grill marks, about 4 minutes. Flip, cook 2 minutes longer, and top each with about 1 tablespoon mozzarella. Cook 2 more minutes for medium-rare doneness and remove from grill. Place buns on grill, cut side down, and lightly toast, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Set a burger on each bottom bun half. Top with a salted tomato slice. Spread 1 tablespoon garlic-herb sauce on the top bun half, sprinkle with Parmesan, cover with burger, and serve with more sauce on the side for dipping.

SOURCE: “Ten Dollar Dinners” by Melissa d’Arabian (Clarkson Potter, 2012)


Note: For our fries to turn brown and crisp, we had to bake them an additional 10 minutes with the oven temp turned up to 425 degrees. The result, though, was fries that were nice and crisp on the outside without all the grease of an oil-fried French fry.

2 potatoes, sliced into fries

olive oil for drzzling

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and lay on a greased baking sheet.

Drizzle some olive oil over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and mix to coat. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until brown and crisp. Shake the baking sheet frequently to make sure the fries brown evenly without sticking.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

SOURCE: “Burgers & Sliders” by Miranda Ballard (Ryland Peters, 2013)

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