Cheeseburger Cheeseburger

I am an all American gal who loves hamburgers across the board. Cheeseburgers, BLT burgers, turkey burgers, bison burgers, veggie burgers, chicken burgers, bean burgers and tuna burgers. I recently had a lamb burger with tzaziki sauce that was thrilling. My Mom makes salmon cakes with fresh dill and Panko, which she cooks in the pan. A variation on burgers. For the usual beef variation, throw on some cheese, bacon and grilled onions. Matthew likes his with mushrooms and avocado. We both agree, burgers must include mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Mayo is a must. If you really want to get crazy, mix up this Thousand Island dressing and go to town. If something on a menu has burger in it, my interest is always piqued so bring it on.  

Upon leaving Germany at the end of 2007, I took a pair of months to investigate different cities, interview and benchmark where to move. My tour de ‘where will I write the next chapter' included London, Charlotte and New York City.  I was at the final stop of my tour.  On my first night out in New York City, I met my sister, best friend and a pair of others at the much loved West Village gastropub Spotted Pig to kick off the night. At the time, it was literally a stone’s throw from my sister’s Charles Street abode.

I ordered a fabulous glass of red that was written on the mirror and while waiting, ran upstairs to check out the intimate venue. I was stopped in my tracks. Who did I see enjoying an intimate dinner but Beyonce and Jay Z. They were seated at a public table and no one was bothering them. I raced downstairs to excitedly tell my friends who informed me that they had seen his car out front. Duh Elizabeth. All things considered and celebrity sightings aside, this city would absolutely do.

For a myriad of reasons, I was in my element living in New York City. An aggressive, dynamic, international, all consuming city. There was never a dull moment. Always an adventure waiting outside my apartment door. The food variety is also incredible and their selection of burgers cannot be beat. In my book, the best of the best can be found at the Spotted Pig. The chef prepares theirs with Roquefort cheese and matchstick potatoes crisp with salt and rosemary. They are like French fries but a thousand times more inspiring. When friends used to visit me, a stop at my favorite spot was always in the cards. A couple of years later, when I no longer lived in the city, I would take international colleagues there followed by a walk along the Highline. Talk about hitting it out of the park. Nowadays, if people ask me where to eat in the Big Apple, among other places, I always send them to our West 11th street spot.

Once I moved to the Big Apple, another choice spot for burgers and meeting friends was that of Corner Bistro. This spot has been around for ages and ages. It was the place to bump into friends from college. Dark and moody on the interior the burgers are nothing fancy but they are certainly something about which to sing home. Imagine a juicy burger with American cheese, crispy bacon and a basic sesame seed bun. Be generous with the ketchup please.

In 2008, I was first introduced to JG Melon on the Upper East Side. Good friends from my UNC days brought me to this place after an evening of serious gallivanting. I continued to return. Their fried potatoes come in the shape of coins. Bonjour. Be sure to order a Bloody Mary. My Chelsea apartment was a skip and a jump from the world famous Shake Shack. Their summertime lines were most definitely worth the wait and the bounty is well priced, by NYC standards. Be sure to order the frozen custard. 

The last time we were in NYC I had a reservation at Minetta Tavern whereby I planned to order the burger, the one with cheddar and caramelized onions. They have a slightly more upscale version that uses aged beef. We ended up switching this reservation for another at the historic Greenwich Village live music venue Café Wha but worry not, we shall return. A cool vegetarian haunt in Charlotte serves an out-of-this-world bean burger that one can order with a large curling kale leaf in place of the bun. It is the jam. We also like a place where you can build your own burger. 

Matthew and I regularly make burgers, usually with turkey or chicken but every once in a while, beef. I almost always chop up an onion and parsley. On special occasions, we stuff them with cheese. Sometimes we angle for an Asian inspired variation and use fish sauce and cilantro. Want them spicy? Throw in a diced jalapeño  They are very easy to tizzy up, shape and throw on the grill plus very healthy contingent upon how we decorate them. The European in me likes them with chopped cucumbers. Last weekend, we had a hankering for burgers and fries. Instead, I made turkey burgers stuffed with onions, topped with fried eggs and a smear of vegenaise. Let’s face it, anything is better with a fried egg and of course, avocado. We wrapped them in bright collard greens and they were sensational.

I usually eat my burger with knife and fork sans bun but will be using greens to wrap mine moving forward. In an effort to emulate French fries but save on calories, I chopped baby new potatoes and threw them in a pan with a glug of olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic and lemon zest, which I roasted at 400 for just shy of an hour until crisp. Before serving, I salted them liberally. Hey, one has to live a little.

Burger and Fries a la Elizabeth


2 lbs of organic ground turkey meat (chicken or good old fashioned beef will also do the trick)
1 small red or white onion – finely chopped
1 TBS oregano
1 TBS Worcester sauce
Kosher salt
Collard greens – chop the stalks off the end
½ cucumber – finely sliced
Vegenaise – far superior to mayonnaise (of course you can supplant this with mustard, ketchup, sriracha, etc)


1. In your Cuisinart, finely dice your onion and parsley. This is also a great time to bring out the microplane and grate your cheese should you choose to add some. Smoked goat's cheddar, chèvre and feta all go nicely in burgers.

2. Add the meat, onion, Worcester sauce and cheese to a large bowl along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and mix everything with your hands. Once mixed, shape your burgers. This usually yields 5 when we make them but of course you can determine whichever size fits your needs. Sliders are also fun.

3. Grill your burgers as you know best. Once they are done, bring them inside and fry your eggs.

4. How to make your burger: Collard wrap first, followed by a dollop of Vegenaise, your burger, cucumbers, fried egg. Wrap, count on using plenty of napkins and enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment