Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers a year, an average of three a week.
The secret to a great, sublime hamburger – one that is crispy on the outside, tender in the middle and dripping with juice – can be achieved in two simple steps, according to Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit. Buy freshly ground chuck with at least 20% fat and cook the raw meat on a griddle, which allows the beef patty to simmer in its own fat, enhancing the burger’s flavor and character (and don’t forget the salt and pepper).
Rapoport, an unabashed burger lover, shared his favorite burger joints in America with The Daily Ticker. His list includes:
- Minetta Tavern in New York City. Rapoport recommends the restaurant’s Black Label Burger ($26). Caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness to the prime dry-aged beef, he says.
- J.G. Melon in New York City. Burgers ($9.75) sizzle on a flat griddle at this 41-year-old pub and Upper East Side burger fixture. Cheese will cost customers an additional 50 cents and a trip to J.G. Melon is not complete without an order of the “old-school” cottage fries ($4.95).
- Au Cheval in Chicago. Diners at the trendy eatery can order a single cheeseburger ($9.75) or a double ($11.95) on a brioche bun dressed with house-made Dijonnaise, pickles and minced onions.
- Husk in historic Charleston, South Carolina (the restaurant has a second outpost in Nashville) serves its classic American cheeseburgers ($10) on a homemade buttermilk and benne seed bun. Its beef patties are blended with hickory-smoked bacon and a hot griddle helps the burgers develop a seared crust.
- In-N-Out, the West Coast burger chain, has been a popular haunt with celebrities for years and many people make the pilgrimage just to eat at one, notes Rapoport. Its solid reputation and “exacting standards” -- preservative and additive free beef, crisp vegetables and freshly baked buns -- have made its burgers (about $1.95 for a plain burger, $2.25 with cheese) legendary.
Related: The Top 5 Steakhouses in America
Chefs no longer view the burger as a chunk of meat squished between a doughy bun and slathered with ketchup and mustard. Restaurants around the world are attempting to remake this American staple as a piece of culinary art. Serendipity 3 in New York debuted its “Le Burger Extravagant” ($295) last year, a concoction of white truffle butter-infused Japanese Wagyu beef topped with James Montgomery cheddar cheese, black truffles and a fried quail egg (served on a gold-dusted campagna roll). Le Burger Brasserie at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas charges $777 for its “777 Burger” – a surf and turf combo of Kobe beef and Maine lobster garnished with caramelized sweet onions, prosciutto, French Triple Cream Brie and 100-year-aged balsamic vinegar.
These savory (and pricey) burgers may excite food connoisseurs and burger aficionados, but Rapoport says he prefers a more spartan approach.
“A burger should not be gimmicky,” he explains. “Keep it simple and delicious.”
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