One of the best things about this blog is that it's put me in contact with people on the fringes of my life. If I've ever doubted my extrovert status, I don't anymore. Some of you are laughing right now. Isn't it funny how other people sometimes know us so much better than we know ourselves?
One of those fringe people is my cousin Megan who emailed me recently and said she's been on the hunt for the perfect burger. Megan is an excellent cook (and seems to excel at whatever she does, come to think of it), so I'm quite reticent to call this the perfect burger. Plus, isn't this really one of the more touchy, subjective food subjects? Some people are all about the beef--if it's Wagyu or not, how it's raised, how bloody it is. Other people are all about the accoutrements and the bun. I'm in the latter category. So if you're all about the beef, try to stay with me for the sake of my needy extrovertedness. What can I say? I like an audience.
I can't really talk about burgers without saying, right off the bat, that my favorite burger place and the most constant craving in my life is Red Mill Burgers. They have two shops in Seattle--one in Greenwood and one in Interbay. I probably think about Red Mill Burgers once a day and go there at least once a month even though it's a trek. Sometimes I have to put Red Mill out of my mind because the thought of their anaheim chile burger is so torturous. Like right now. I have to change the subject...
To my other favorite burger place--Nell Thorn Pub way up in LaConner where my in-laws live. Theirs is a grilled bun, juicy beef, and grilled red peppers and onions with a seasoned mayo. The burger pictured is a copycat of Nell Thorn's, and it was almost as good. For some reason, they do taste a bit better when I'm on a date with Yancey playing cribbage and drinking beer.
I grilled up a bunch of yellow peppers (4 lbs. for $1 at MacPhersons!) and onions and made some herbed mayo. And I bought Macrina brioche buns at PCC. OMG. Buns. Since we only make burgers at home once every few months, there's no way I'm going to wreck it with a bad bun. Good buns are very hard to find, it turns out.
All my opinions are coming out here. I hope they don't feel wrathful. But I hate ketchup on burgers. I like ketchup on fries and fried egg sandwiches, but that's about it. If I've just gone to all the trouble to grill peppers and onions, I'm not going to spoil everything with ketchup. I am a mayonnaise lover from my youth (another touchy subject--some people shudder at the thought of mayo) so I have my burgers just with mayo or I often make a quick garlic or herbed version like I did here.
I'd better stop and redeem myself. I am really serious about my belief that eating together is always more important than what is eaten. I have gratefully eaten many, many burgers in my life that weren't like this one. Contrary to what lots of people think, I am not picky, and my worst fear is that friends or family won't want to cook for me because I go on and on about the horrors of ketchup on burgers. I think I've offended lots of people in my life by being so bracingly opinionated. It's just that, when I'm in my own kitchen, it's actually fun for me to occasionally produce that which I'm craving (and then to go on and on about it). My friend Chris has called me "The Exaggeratress" for a long time, and this blog helps me turn that into a higher calling instead of just a flaw.
So here's the "recipe," finally. My burger patties were nothing special--just meat and salt. So I'll let you do those your way. And my Macrina buns were grilled (cold buns are another thing that can wreck a burger). Otherwise, here's how to do the peppers and mayo, and blue cheese doesn't hurt, either. I put it on when the burgers are almost done so it turns into a gooey, creamy mess.
Grilled Peppers and Onions
(This makes way too much. Enough for the pizza I'll be writing about soon)
6 yellow (or red or orange or combo) bell peppers
1 large red onion
1 large yellow onion
salt and pepper
Preheat grill on high. Brush whole peppers with olive oil, and cut onions into 1/2" thick rings and brush with olive oil. Grill everything together. Onions will take about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, and you can take them off before the peppers are done. Grill the peppers until charred all over--10-12 minutes. Put the charred peppers in a plastic or paper bag and let them sweat and cool down in there, about 15 minutes. This helps the skins come off easily. Pell the skins off, cut and seed them, and add them to the bowl with the peppers. Toss everything with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
1 c. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 handful chopped fresh herbs (I used oregano)
juice of 1/2 lemon
lots of salt
Stir everything together!