Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Chapter in the Quest for the Perfect Cheeseburger, Part One


Some History of the Quest


I have been on a quest to find and eat the perfect cheeseburger since 1996. My quest companion has been Pooky since 2001. Together we've sampled the offerings at many a dive, mom & pop stand, chain, restaurant, and our own kitchen. Perhaps I was a little ahead of my time in my quest and love for cheeseburgers, or that I was merely in synch with many other people. The burger has become a trend in new ways beyond the fast food drive-thru window. It's been exalted to gourmet levels at upscale boutiques, modernized at food trucks, and made into Frankensteins by adorning them with odd condiments and toppings. Many try to copy the old mom & pop/roadside stand that typically have decades of history. What I have found is that the decades of history cannot be made instantly, it really does require decades to achieve that particular flavor found in those types of eateries. I think it's because the equipment gets well seasoned, and that there isn't any pretension to be had or deliberateness in creating the burger: it's a happy accident that occurred over time, like geological formations or ancient forests.

I used to maintain a website and even had people submitting their burgers with a scoring system I created. Somewhere, I may have actually saved all of the HTML files I created for the site. (This was back when I was learning web site development.) Pooky and I scoured the great northwest from Portland to Bellingham, thanks to another site that listed places where burgers were served, while we resided in Washington from 2002-2008. When we moved to North Carolina, my quest for cheeseburgers enjoyed many detours to other types of specialties like pulled pork sandwiches, and pit beef sandwiches. My continuation of the quest has slowed due to the fact that North Carolina state law requires burgers to be cooked to medium. In my opinion, this ruins the meat.

As I like a medium-rare to a little more done than rare patty, and I'm always looking for the next culinary challenge to develop my skills, I took on the mission to learn how to create a tasty, cooked-the-way-I-like-it burger. My primary sources for learning are The Food Lab and A Hamburger Today. I have adapted the techniques from these sources to craft my burgers. Subsequent posts will share the knowledge I've gained.

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