The following is continued from our story Pimp Your Patty. Click here for part one of this story.


From Scratch's Scratch Burger avoided the pimped burger pitfalls.

Pitfalls of the Pimpburger

Luxurious indulgence always runs the risk of becoming tasteless ostentation, especially with luxe burgers because you can taste the tastelessness. Here are some things to beware of when going luxe:

Degrees of Doneness

One-handed burgers don’t have this problem, but once your patty exceeds a quarter pound, how it’s cooked becomes an issue. Your server should ask how you’d like your burger cooked—this is, after all a “nice” restaurant—but it usually doesn’t matter. Even the most haute kitchens seem to have two degrees of doneness for ground beef: cooked or not. Maybe they believe all that health department tripe about the dangers of undercooked proteins. Still, rare, medium-rare and medium all come out that vague pinkish gray color in the center. The problem is the meat continues cooking once it’s off the griddle. 

House-made Ketchup

If and when you want ketchup, that’s what you want. Whether you’re a Heinz or a Hunts fan, the flavor you’re seeking can only be found in an industrial blend of white vinegar, corn syrup, tomato concentrate, salt and other flavorings. Let’s be honest: Small-batch, all-natural concoctions may be a good sauce, but it’s not what you want, if you want ketchup on your burger. In short, keep your artisanal hands off my ketchup. 

Truffle Oil

Truffle oil is the ketchup of the rich. An equally industrial condiment, composed of a mosh of synthetic and natural flavors, none of which are actual truffles, truffle oil is the bane of the luxe burger, because just by adding the word “truffle” to the menu description you can add $5 to the price. 

Soggy Bun Syndrome

Again, one-handed burgers don’t have this problem. But with a patty weighing one third a pound or more, the meat juices are bound to leak out and into the bun, causing the dreaded S.B.S., where the lower bun turns to  papier mâché paste in your hand. That’s anything but luxurious. Solution: The burger needs to rest a few minutes before sandwiching it on the bun. 

Excessively Artisanal Buns

For the majority of burgers, the bun is just a puffy taco shell—a container for the mess inside. But for a luxe-burger, the bun becomes a real artistic collaborator. The problem comes when the bun is considered separately from the patty. We’ve all experienced oral lacerations from overly artisanal buns that you can hardly bite through. Yes, we want a more substantial bread than Wonder, but in this case, moderation is luxury. 

How Pappa Hemingway Pimped his Patty

Ernest Hemingway’s favorite hamburger recipe, part of the Hemingway Letters Project, recently was shared in digital form by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We may have an image of Hemingway as a man’s man with a palate as simple as his prose, but evidently the great writer liked to mix it up, at least when it came to his ground meat. To one pound of beef, his fourth wife Mary added (according to her typed recipe): minced garlic, chopped green onion, India relish, capers, sage, Spice Islands Beau Monde seasoning, an egg, dry red or white wine, Spice Islands Mei yen powder…and suggested other additions, like ground almonds, piccalilli sauce and minced mushrooms. 

Back>>>Read part one of Pimp Your Patty.

Back>>>Read other stories from our May/June 2014 issue.