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A couple of Sunday’s ago, on a lunch break at Whole Foods I caught an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and while I am not a fan of the show or its premise I shelved my distaste and decided to stomach the program since the subject matter was quite enthralling—hamburgers. I gleaned a lot of useful information from the program and was eager to prepare my own homemade hamburgers and apply the newfound techniques to my creation.

When I make homemade burgers, they come in three stages: conceptualizing the burger, sourcing its ingredients and then preparing it. I need to think about what style I am after, then I need to purchase the necessary ingredients to bring it to fruition and finally amass those individual components and create a cohesive and satisfying unit. May sound scientific but it is a simple process that requires little culinary skill and can yield big results as long as you are efficient and focused.

At the check stand, after my lunch break I had plenty of time to have my perfect burger (particular to that day) fester, the thought consumed me.  In my mind I ran through favorable styles that I had recently encountered like blending cuts of meat or infusing the patty with herbs or peppers but ultimately simplicity reigned supreme. I was also able to recall Mr. Flay’s advice about not complicating the meat, just rely on the seasoning. On my final break I selected some ground beef, and would combine it with some sautéed mushrooms, raw red onion, heirloom tomato, romaine lettuce and a few bread and butter pickles all on a bun.

The preparation—or second step—came when I got home, washing my hands and rummaging through my ingredients. Unloading my groceries, I sorted them; the vegetables were shifted to my bamboo cutting board after rinsing thoroughly, while the meat was unpacked. I quickly formed patties and applied generous amounts of kosher salt to both sides of the meat with a few cracks of fresh pepper per side. I had my large sauté pan heating while I was slicing vegetables. At this time I began sautéing the mushrooms with a lot of oil. Then when I deemed it warm enough, I threw in some oil to my large sauté pan and had the patties start searing at high heat for two minutes per side. After the short cooking time, I transferred the patties to a plate to rest the meat and began assembling the assortment of vegetables.

After ten minutes I had a gorgeous looking burger and popped open a bottle of Hawkes Merlot to pair with it—I was short on appropriate pairing partners at my apartment. The patty, as Mr. Flay emphatically insisted it would be from following his technique, was crusted perfectly. Mr. Flay also stated to not press down on the patty with a spatula, as is so often the case when people make homemade burgers—I followed his techniques to burger bliss. My burger was to taste so it would not be fair to say it was amazing—though it was my best effort hamburger—however the execution of the meat—cooking it to a perfect medium—it made me ecstatic, the burger was dripping, juicy and charred. The wine was not a perfect match but at least it provided some structure.

Homemade hamburgers have the potential to be the best, they are easy to prepare and extremely rewarding. They satisfy many demands, and if you are rooted in busy city life without a moment to spare then consider this: substantial food, quick preparation time, and they are very affordable making it a go-to choice. Rarely does a food item get better.

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