kottke.org posts about burgers

The true cost of a cheeseburgerJul 22 2014

Mark Bittman on the true cost of producing a hamburger, after accounting for externalities like carbon generation and obesity.

Cheeseburgers are the coal of the food world, with externalities in spades; in fact it's unlikely that producers of cheeseburgers bear the full cost of any aspect of making them.

This made me think of something I wrote for Worldchanging several years ago about a True Cost rating:

Wealth doesn't just magically materialize into your bank account. It comes from the ground, human effort, the flesh of animals, the sun, and the atom. The global economy is driven by nature, and yet it's not usually found on the accountant's balance sheet. Perhaps it should be. I'd like to know the true cost of the stuff I buy. Embodied energy and carbon footprint calculations are a good start, but it would be nice if the product itself came with a True Cost number or rating, like the nutritional information on a cereal box or the Energy Star rating on a refrigerator.

When True Cost is factored in, conflict diamonds become a morally expensive choice to make when they're fueling turmoil in the world. Likewise clothing made in sweatshops. Organic tomatoes flown in from Chile may be less expensive at the register, but how much carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere flying/driving them to your table? What's the energy cost of living in the suburbs compared to living downtown? Do the people who made the clock hanging on my wall get paid a fair wage and receive healthcare? Just how bad for the environment is the laptop on which I'm typing?

(via subtraction)

The all-crust hamburgerApr 01 2014

Kenji Lopez-Alt and the folks at the Harlem Shake restaurant have invented a burger that's all delicious brown crust.

See, by placing a ball of meat on a hot, un-oiled griddle and smashing it down firmly into a flat, thin disk, you greatly increase the contact points between the meat and the griddle, which in turn increases the Maillard reaction. That's the series of chemical reactions that creates the rich brown crust that makes our steaks and burgers taste so freaking good. Maximum crust = maximum flavor = maximum craving.

I've already discussed the basic ins and outs of smashed burgers in the past, but after writing that article, I found myself wondering, what if I were to take this to the extreme? Is there a way I can pack even more flavor into a burger?

Spoiler alert: the answer is a big fat (or should I say short smashed?) yes.

The Ernest Hemingway burgerSep 19 2013

Ernest Hemingway liked a good burger and had a specific recipe he wanted his staff to use when preparing meals. Using his instructions, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan recently recreated the Hemingway burger.

Fingers deep, I kneaded. Fighting the urge to be careless and quick, I kept the pace rhythmic, slow. Each squeeze, I hoped, would gently ease the flavors -- knobby bits of garlic, finely chopped capers, smatterings of dry spices -- into the marbled mound before me.

I had made burgers before, countless times on countless evenings. This one was different; I wasn't making just any burger -- I was attempting to recreate Hemingway's hamburger. And it had to be just right.

Surprisingly, with 11 different ingredients, Hemingway's burger is not as stripped down as his prose. For a more minimalist burger, you have to turn to Dean Martin:

Dean Martin Burger

Frank Sinatra's is perhaps even easier:

Sinatra Burger

One thing is for sure: none of these gentlemen would cotton to the idea of the ramen burger, homemade or no. (via open culture)

Mini cheeseburger kit takes the "fast" and "food" out of fast foodNov 21 2012

While I'm not sure I'd call it food, what this kit produces is apparently edible. According to the YouTube notes:

No artificial colours. No preservatives. 96 calories.

...Yum

(thx @chrisoverzero)

Andy Warhol eating a hamburgerJul 10 2012

This is a five-minute video of Andy Warhol eating a Burger King hamburger accompanied by Heinz ketchup.

The scene is part of a film done by Jorgen Leth called 66 scenes from america.

Leth had his assistant buy some burgers and directly advised him to buy some in halfway neutral packaging as Leth was afraid that Warhol might reject some brands (Warhol always had an obsession with some of his favorite brands).

So Andy Warhol finally did arrive at the studio, of course along with his bodyguards, and when he saw the selection of burgers the assistant had brought he asked "Where is the McDonald's?" and Leth -- slightly in panic -- was immediately like "I thought you would maybe not like to identify..." and Warhol answered "no that is the most beautiful". Leth offered to let his assistant quickly run to McDonald's but Warhol refused like "No, never mind, I will take the Burger King."

(via bon appetit)

I, CheeseburgerDec 05 2011

In thinking about making meals completely from scratch, Waldo Jaquith realizes that making a simple cheeseburger would have been nearly impossible before the twentieth century.

Tomatoes are in season in the late summer. Lettuce is in season in in the fall. Mammals are slaughtered in early winter. The process of making such a burger would take nearly a year, and would inherently involve omitting some core cheeseburger ingredients. It would be wildly expensive-requiring a trio of cows-and demand many acres of land. There's just no sense in it.

A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors-in all likelihood, a couple of dozen-and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh.

(via stellar)

Dean Martin's burger recipeJul 11 2011

From The Celebrity Cookbook (1967), Dean Martin's recipe for hamburgers:

Dean Martin Burger

No ice. TV tray. Classy. (via @lettersofnote)

Make your own In-N-Out Burger at homeJul 23 2010

Today in the excellent Food Lab series, Kenji Lopez-Alt reverse engineers the In-N-Out burger.

According to the In-N-Out nutrition guideline, replacing the Spread with ketchup results in a decrease of 80 calories per sandwich. I know that ketchup has about 15 calories per tablespoon, so If we estimate that an average sandwich has about 2 tablespoons of sauce on it (that's the amount that's inside a single packet), then we can calculate that the Spread has got about 55 calories per tablespoon (110 calories in two tablespoons of Spread minus 30 calories in 2 tablespoons of ketchup = 80 calories difference in the sandwich). With me so far?

It just so happens that relish has about the same caloric density as ketchup (15 calories per tablespoon), and that mayonnaise has a caloric density of 80 calories per tablespoon. Using all of this information and a bit of 7th grade algebra, I was able to quickly calculate that the composition of the Spread is roughly 62 percent mayo, and 38 percent ketchup/relish blend.

Here's the recipe to make your own at home. Pairs well with make-at-home McDonald's french fries. See also make-at-home Shake Shack burger.

The Shake Shack burger recipeOct 19 2009

With a bit of research and social engineering, an enterprising burger enthusiast has figured out the recipe for the infamous Shake Shack burger.

Exclamation point interlude: !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Upon tasting it, my immediate thoughts are mayo, ketchup, a little yellow mustard, a hint of garlic and paprika, perhaps a touch of cayenne pepper, and an elusive sour quality that I can't quite pinpoint. It's definitely not just vinegar or lemon juice, nor is does it have the cloying sweetness of relish. Pickle juice? Cornichon? Some other type of vinegar? I can't figure it out. This was going to take a little more effort.

Totally doing this for dinner one of these nights. We'll probably cheat on the ground beef...we've got some Pat LaFrieda patties stockpiled in the freezer.

Hamburger style guideSep 18 2009

A Hamburger Today presents a guide to all the different styles of hamburgers and cheeseburgers out there, including sliders, the pub burger, and guberburgers (a regional burger featuring melted peanut butter).

See also America's Regional Hot Dog Styles and A List of Regional Pizza Styles.

Not too much, not too littleJul 28 2008

Four-star chef Eric Ripert checked out the burgers at McDonald's and Burger King to use as a pattern for a burger at his new D.C. restaurant. Part of what he learned is proportion is everything.

Just looking at the basic burgers at each of these chains -- particularly the Big Mac -- showed me a couple of very key things: First of all, the burgers are a perfect size. You can grab them in both hands, and they're never too tall or too wide to hold on to. And the toppings are the perfect size, too -- all to scale, including the thickness of the tomatoes, the amount of lettuce, etc. In terms of the actual flavors, they taste okay, but you can count on them to be consistent; you always know what you're going to get.

Ripert's findings dovetail quite nicely with my theory of sandwichcraft.

First Shack burger of the season. Yum.Mar 19 2007

First Shack burger of the season. Yum.

Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out smackdownJul 18 2006

Here it is, the awful truth. After sampling In-N-Out Burger twice this past weekend (a cheeseburger with raw onion and, 4 days later, a Double Double w/ no onions) and having had several Shack Burgers this year (my most recent one was a couple of weeks ago), an adequate comparison between the two can be made. The verdict?

The Shake Shack burger wins in a landslide. It's more flavorful, features a better balance of ingredients, and a yummier bun. On the french fries front, In-N-Out's fresh-cut fries get the nod.

Courtesy of Mena, something to keep in mind: a cheeseburger at In-N-Out is $1.85 while a similarly appointed Shack Burger is $4.38, almost 2.5 times as much. SS french fries are nearly twice the price of In-N-Out fries. The burger comparison is an unfair one because, despite its location and style, Shake Shack is a restaurant and In-N-Out is a fast food joint. That the burgers are even close enough to compare -- and make no mistake, I still love the In-N-Out burger -- says a great deal about In-N-Out.

Bruni reviews Shake ShackMar 28 2006

While not exactly a starred review, Bruni ruminates on the Shake Shack in his blog and is also on a more general burger warpath.

Opening day at Shake ShackMar 21 2006

I did some important investigatory journalism today: burgers at the Shake Shack on opening day. Journalism has never been so delicious.

Luther burgerMar 14 2006

The Gateway Grizzlies are introducing a new menu item at their ballpark: a bacon cheeseburger with Krispy Kreme donuts as a bun.

Update: The burger w/donut buns is not a new invention...it's commonly called the "Luther Burger" after Luther Vandross. Double true. (thx, scott)

BurgerClubMar 02 2006

BurgerClub is a message board for hambuger enthusiasts. NYC-centric, but includes other locales.

Ode to a cheeseburgerFeb 16 2006

"If I were told that I had one last meal before I died and then I was given the choice between a super chic 15 course degustation meal cooked by Thomas Keller, Tetsuya Wakuda, Ferran Adria and Joel Robuchon and a perfect cheeseburger, the choice would be easy. I'd pick the burger without a moment's hesitation."

Best burgers in NYCOct 13 2005

A list of excellent hamburgers to be found in NYC. For more on NYC burgers, check out A Hamburger Today. I still maintain that NYC isn't a burger town, although with all the recent activity, it may be one soon.

History of the hamburgerAug 19 2005

Who knew the history of the hambuger was so convoluted? Here's what we know: somewhere between Kublai Khan and the Big Mac, someone somewhere invented it.

20 hamburgers you must eat before you dieJul 25 2005

20 hamburgers you must eat before you die. That In-N-Out isn't on here almost got this link disqualified from posting, but since they don't seem to have any other chains on here, I'll let it slide.

A weblog about hamburgersMay 16 2005

A weblog about hamburgers.

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