It is the most wonderful time of the year. Birds are singing. The sounds of children playing and laughing are once again filling the streets late into the evening. The smell of fresh cut grass is surpassed only by the wonderful aroma of all the glorious foods cooking on neighbors’ grills.
May is National Burger Month, and May 28th is National Burger Day, which always means one thing in my house: Twin Wars and the Great Burger Debate.
When my girls were born two minutes apart, almost nine years ago, we were asked if we wanted genetic testing done to determine if they were identical. I looked over at ‘Baby A’ and her thick brown hair and beautiful brown eyes just like her mother’s, and then glanced at ‘Baby B’ and her thin platinum blonde hair and piercing blue eyes a shade lighter than mine. I raised an eyebrow and then realized the nurses were being serious. I chuckled and said, “I think we will figure it out in time. They seem pretty night and day.”
I had no idea how much that observation would come to fruition.
My girls are truly polar opposites. One is introspective and intellectual, the other extroverted and curious. One is all about everything dolls, dresses, and princesses, the other is all about dinosaurs, Pokemon, and reading. In my house if I say up, one jumps and the other literally goes down.
No subject finds this truth to be more consistent and to be an actual “issue” than when it comes to food. One of my girls will eat any vegetable prepared for her and the other can track the smallest trace of a “tomato” piece on her pizza (which is immediately removed and scoffed about). One is adventurous in trying anything from sushi to Indian food, while the other would find it fantastic if macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets could be served three times per day/seven days per week.
I’ve learned over the years to compromise and to choose my battles when it comes to the dinners I prepare. I have found that involving both of my twins in the cooking process encourages my “finicky critic” to try many more types of food. In fact, we recently discovered she loves pistachios, kidney beans, and fresh spinach (no dressing).
The one area with no room for compromise is burgers.
One of my twins loves any burger I make. From a classic Swiss Patty Melt (recipe below), or a Greek inspired oregano/garlic/lemon/feta burger topped with Tzatziki sauce, she is sure to gobble it up. Her sister, after countless tries, will only agree to a Hazelnut Spread Banana Burger. (BONUS RECIPE -2T hazelnut spread on two slices of whole grain white bread with a small banana cut into thin slices and then crusts cut off using a small bowl).
There is nothing more American than firing up the grill for burgers, and then cracking open an ice cold beer. (however, decked out with different spins on different cuisines).
As for my non-burger loving daughter? I choose my battles and have come to accept a burger girl she may never be. Perhaps someday she will find a burger she likes.
For now, I gladly serve these two burgers as we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I hope you enjoy your weekend, the company of those around you, and the great freedom those sacrifices afforded.
Oh, and here’s what our reviewers had to say!
Classic Swiss Patty Melt Recipe
1 pound 85/15 ground beef (while this mix has a fattier content, this will ensure the burger stays juicy)
A packet of onion soup mix
1 t garlic powder
1 t fresh ground black pepper
8 slices of rye bread (seeded or unseeded)
8 slices of Swiss cheese (thicker cut)
1 T of unsalted butter (plus 2 – 3 T whipped butter)
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
8 slices of bacon
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 T butter and chopped onion and cook until caramelized (12 minutes plus, until a rich dark color is attained). ***Do not add salt, as this will hinder the caramelization process.
- Set onions aside.
- Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until it becomes crisp (5 – 7 minutes).
- Set bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate.
- While the onions and bacon are cooking, add the ground beef, onion soup mix, pepper, and egg and gently combine (do not over work the meat as this will cause it to dry out).
- Form the beef into 4 equal patties by dividing the mix in half and then the halves in half. ***when forming the patties, be sure to press in the center so the burger appears “indented” which will help to make a flat and equal burger after cooking
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread with whipped butter and place single file on a sheet pan. Top with cheese and onions. Cook until cheese is bubbly and bread is a rich, golden brown.
- In a perfect world, you will make a teepee of charcoal on your old fashioned charcoal grill and bring them to perfect temperature. If you think “store bought is fine” like every single person I know – heat your gas grill to 450 degrees while leaving patties out to come to room temperature.
- Place burgers in the center of the grill where the temperature is highest and cook burgers for 3-4 minutes until the sides and top begin to brown and gently flip (DO NOT PRESS BURGERS WITH SPATULA).
- Move the burgers to the sides of the gas grill (or charcoal) for a lower temperature cooking zone and cook for an addition 3-6 minutes depending on what temperature you like (3 minutes or so for medium rare, 6 minutes or so for well).
- Remove burgers from grill and place on prepared grilled cheese/onion bread with two bacon slices each.
- Serve with your favorite picnic sides. Pairs best with a nice dark beer like Sam Adams Summer Ale or a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.
- Most important: enjoy making memories with your little ones!
Check out these cool burger facts!
Brian has been a full time stay at home/work from home dad for almost 13 years to his 12-year-old and twin 8-year-old daughters. He is working on a cook book which explores a healthier take on 'kid cuisine', "The Heart of the Home with The Cook at Home Dad," as well as a novel, "The Adventures of a Desperate Trophy Househusband," about the transition from being a pioneering stay at home dad to rejoining the workforce in mid life.