Hawkins spent his weekend with friends and family in his home in Madisonville, while I spent my Saturday afternoon on the clock. My friend Ramona Hamilton gave me a lovely “collector’s item” while I spoke to her about the Voice for Animals’ Humane Society. The Humane Society lives up to their full name with their advocacy of pets in Trigg County. If you need a cause to support, you can’t get much better than them.
Speaking of great causes, my next stop on Saturday took me to Gracey for the Fraternal Order of Eagles Alexis “Lexi” Sabatino Poker Run. My friend Joey Allen, who owns Rip’s Tavern, had everything a biker or a reporter could want. Live music greeted guests, who fed themselves with some hamburgers. The Eagles raised plenty of money for their beneficiary, Jaden Willhite, while participants in the run, and this reporter, had a great time.
There’s nothing like a good hamburger on a summer afternoon. Often my grandfather grilled them, usually on a Saturday afternoon. I’d watch him press ground meat into patties and grill them over charcoal, and later, gas, before the family sat down to a great supper. I think I went through a million different combinations of condiments in my quest to “have it my way.” In the end, I became one of those “everything or nothing” types that could eat a good hamburger any which way.
With Hawkins back in town on Sunday, I headed to the grocery store to stock up on supplies. I suspected the regular ground meat would be perhaps too fatty, while the round might be too lean and dry. In the end, I opted for a happy medium, ground chuck.
Take a pound to pound-and-a-half of the ground chuck and place it in a large mixing bowl. Beef itself tastes great, but I decided to season my burgers for a surprise. Add a teaspoon of steak sauce, a half tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a half teaspoon of “Montreal” or steak seasoning, a quarter teaspoon each of pepper, garlic powder, paprika and ground mustard and blend it with the meat. I suppose a cook could use a fork to blend the meat and spices, but honestly, fingers seem to be the tried and true method. Just be sure to wash your hands when you get done mushing the meat. Raw or undercooked ground meat may contain E. Coli, so cook it well, and make sure you have clean hands, utensils and food contact surfaces when you’re done.
Form patties by rolling the meat into balls of equal size, then flattening them out. I like both thick and thin hamburgers, but opted for thin for the purposes of this exercise. You’ll see why in just a minute.
I had a little difficulty with my fire, until I realized that the newspaper I was using (not this one by the way) burned poorly. Quickly, I replaced it in my chimney with someone else’s paper, and found it ignited my charcoal with no hassles. I’m too vain to burn copies of The Cadiz Record.
With the fire going, I cleaned off the grill and heated it up. The burgers got to sizzling pretty quickly, and the dripping grease caused some flashes on my coals. A hot fire is key for a quick and tender burger though. If you get flares, close the flue on your grill’s lid to about three quarters and seal it tightly. This will starve the flame of oxygen it needs to burn, and trap the fire’s heat in the grill. You get a very evenly cooked burger when you use a lid.
As juices pool on the tops of the burgers, give them a flip. Here’s why we made them thin. My family in Paducah loves inside out burgers, so I decided to try the same. Sadly, it can make for a dirty grill, but a very tasty burger makes up for it. Between the patties, I placed a slice of American cheese and some grilled onions. Other sorts of cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, bacon, tomatoes or any other toppings would have been at home as well. On another patty, I placed only a single piece of cheese, and then stacked the two of them, cheese side in the middle, on top of each other. Let the cheese get good and gooey, and you are ready to serve.
The inside-out burgers went well on onion rolls I bought at the store. We ate them with all of a burger’s old friends, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo and next to the lettuce, just a bit of Thousand Island dressing. It’s what I was in the mood for on Sunday. Tomorrow, who knows, I might want it with crunchy onions and barbecue sauce. I realized I left my fries in the freezer, but with all the hamburgers we had, nobody starved.
Hawkins must be in full Batman mode, seeing “The Dark Knight” again with his father on Saturday, then watching 1992’s “Batman Returns” with me on Sunday. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden in his car, but I half expect him to hum the old Adam West Batman theme. Next time I have to smack him, maybe I’ll say “Pow!” After supper, we caught the current HBO Sunday show, “Generation Kill.” It’s sad that it conflicts with another show that we love, which returned for its second season the same night, “Mad Men.” Still, thanks to his DVR, a good night can be had by all, or recorded and reviewed later on any given night. Good eating.