I just returned from 3 blissful weeks at our family cabin in Pinecrest and I am happy to say that I accomplished my goal of eating as many burgers as possible. If you’re on vacation with a cold beer in hand and a hot grill on deck, a burger is really and truly the most delicious and efficient way to go! Okay, I’m completely and totally biased, I admit it, but nevertheless, in 21 days I made a point to eat burgers from each of the following 5 categories…
#1: The Homemade Burger
I believe it is my constitutional right to pursue the happiness derived from crafting The Perfect Homemade Burger and while on vacation, I made burgers at least 5 times and rarely deviate from my personal recipe. I chose grass fed beef– or the best I can find- from the store and when forming the patties, I use a very light touch, making sure that the meat stays somewhat loose in order to optimize juiciness. The tighter the patty, the more likely it will be dry and dense.
Hubby claims that mixing a raw egg into the beef keeps the patties from breaking apart and bloating on the grill but I disagree- all you need to do is put a small thumb-print sized indentation in the middle of the patty prior to cooking. When the burger cooks, the meat contracts, so that divet in the middle catches the juice and keeps the patties flat. Problem solved. Fry the egg and put it on top of your burger if you must! That’s yummy too!
When cooking a burger on the grill, I keep the lid open and cook for 3-5 minutes a side (depending on the size of the patty) and then turn off the heat and close the lid, letting the burger rest for another 3-5 minutes, producing a perfectly grayish-pink medium temperature. On the stove, I am a fan of using a large cast iron skillet. I heat the skillet up and quickly put a good sear on each side, resulting in a dark brown crust that locks in the juices, then reducing the heat and cooking 3-5 minutes more per side.
My way is the best way, of course, but then there’s…
#2: The Buddy Burger
Buddy: “You guys want to stay for dinner tonight?”
Me: “No thanks, I’m really tired and want to get the kids to bed early tonight. Some other time though!”
Buddy: “We’re making burgers. With bacon.”
Me: “Yes. Yes, we’ll stay.”
My friends have easily learned that I just cannot refuse a burger- especially if someone is making it for me! Everyone has different techniques to patty prep and grilling and I always enjoy watching how my friends make their burgers- I ask questions, take pictures, and stand by drooling. My favorite food with my favorite people at my favorite vacation spot and everything is right with the world!
#3: Steam Donkey Burgers
We are lucky enough to have a restaurant called The Steam Donkey within walking distance of our cabin and on those days when it’s just way too hot to cook, I’ll head on over to the Donkey for a burger and beer. During this trip, I went only twice. I considered ordering a salad but my instincts took over and both times had a burger. I told myself that I would give their other protein options a try this time, but I didn’t. I’m on vacation, after all- why waste my time on a stinking turkey or veggie burger?! Go ahead, bring the beef and pile on that bacon and cheese while you’re at it!
The Steam Donkey burgers are pretty decent, can’t complain, fries are good too. I believe everything is from frozen so for $10 it’s a bit of a stretch but it will certainly do on those days where laziness takes over.
#4: The Beach Burger
Pinecrest Lake is beautiful and there are 3 main beaches that are very clean- my kids love swimming and playing in the sand while I relax, work on my tan and read. At the most popular beach, beach #1, there is a food shack that serves up burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken fingers, ice cream and all the other assorted picnic fare. You order and pay at one window then wait to pick up at another and as there is not seating at the shack, you just head back to your blanket and chow down while taking in the baby blue of the sky and deep green of the trees. Sitting at a table is great and all but, to me, on-the-beach is one of The Best ways to enjoy a burger.
For $5 the beach burger is really a good deal! It is huge and the sesame seed bun is fresh and soft. Honestly, I rather prefer the beach burger to the Steam Donkey burger as the meat seems very fresh and the portion is larger. Fries are an additional $3 and they are all kinds of crispy, salted goodness. They also offer a veggie burger option but, as you may have already guessed, I have not (and probably will not) try it- that flame-grilled beef is just way too tasty to pass up!
#5: The Back-Up Burger
I’m such a burger addict that I really need to have a back-up burger just in case, so when all else fails, I reach for the frozen White Castle cheeseburgers and, I must admit, they aren’t that great- one minute in the microwave and you’ve got a couple steamy, soggy, wrinkly sliders! I’ve never been to a real brick-and-mortar White Castle but I would hope that the restaurant version is much better than this frozen version and hope to try them someday.
While the frozen White Castle burgers may not be up to my very high standards, I still always have a box of these in the freezer for those moments of burger desperation as they are the best I have found so far. I’m still on the hunt for other back-up burger options so if you know of any, please shoot your recommendations my way!
So that’s my trip in a bun- I’m back in Oakland and I am happily reading that several new burger spots have opened up so stay tuned for more reviews, Hamburger Blogger Buddies, and Happy Summer!!!
P.S. Did anyone get my title reference???