Like a lot of people, I’m pretty particular about my burgers. I like a nice, thick patty, with juices that ooze out, a slice of melted cheese (cheddar or swiss, depending on the mood), a slice of lettuce (if it’s fresh and crisp, otherwise don’t bother), a slice of tomato (optional), onions only if grilled. Other accouterments might include sauteed mushrooms and maybe a rasher of bacon or three.
The bun is very important. It should be fresh -- that should go without saying -- but I like it slightly toasted, on the grill, preferably, with a slather of butter. I don’t care if it has sesame seeds, but never caraway.
And the burger must be prepared medium-rare. The unwillingness of the restaurant to cook it to my specification has been a deal killer. I have canceled the order and walked out of the restaurant on numerous occasions when I’ve been informed by the server that the kitchen will not cook any burgers less than medium-well.
Even worse is when they tell me they can’t because of a state law that says all burgers must be cooked medium-well. There is no such state law.
The reason that those restaurants want to overcook burgers is to kill any bacteria that may be present in the patty. Note that I said IN the patty. During the slaughter process, usually if the intestines are sliced, bacteria can spread to the meat. This is more common than you probably want to know. The good news is that the cooking process is quite effective in killing the bacteria. Because the bacteria is on the surface of the meat, say a nice thick steak, even rare steaks are considered safe to consume.
But with ground beef, the surface gets blended into the rest of the meat, so any bacteria that was on the surface can now be found inside the patty. Therefore, it’s necessary to cook a burger longer in order to assure that the inside reaches a bacterium-killing temp. Some restaurants don’t want to take the chance, so they refuse to cook ground beef to lower temperatures.
I, however, believe in free will, and if customers want to take a chance on a medium-rare burger they should be allowed.
Luckily, a good number of restaurants that serve a good number of burgers agree with me.
Some of the burgers in town that I enjoy are: