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Essentials: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Four paragraphs of "this is the greatest spaghetti recipe of all time, so just shut up" attitude, and she never mentions why. Writing at its best.

Mcdonalds Pickles

Harmless pickles. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't remove them, like I do at some fast food places. But I don't exactly ENJOY them.

Los Angeles: Big Time Burgers at Little Bear

Learned a good bit about the owners, bread, sauce and veggies for a burger review. Still wondering what kind of beef they use. "Angus" doesn't say much. How was the sear? Was it cooked properly? How was the grind?

never mind

Burger Mash-ups: Del Taco

Beavis, take a breath and realize your getting uptight about a complete non-issue. Even on a scale of things that DON'T matter, e.g. what this woman thinks of fast food, it ranks about a .06

Video: 'Leaked' Mary J. Blige Burger King Commercials by The Second City

This is the kind of exploitation that will set minorities back another 20, 30 years. Way to go Burger King.

The perfect burger bun

Ozersky: "You are overthinking this, to say the least. Just buy the cheapest unseeded hamburger buns in the store: Wonder or Sunbeam, or the store brand better still. Toast them lightly on the griddle either with or without margarine, depending on the fat content of the burger. Serve and eat. Don't put water on them or do anything else like that."

I will give you no explanations. Only directives. On trust alone you will obey. I have been on TV.

Burger Mash-ups: Del Taco

Erin your "quesadilla fatty melt" is a fun idea. I go to Del Taco when the lines are too long at the other burger joints. I do this grudgingly because, agreed, the Del Taco burgers ARE especially crummy and boring. I can't wait to try this as it makes perfect (if zany) sense :)

The Four High End Steaks You Should Know


In your discussion for The Strip Steak, you write:

"Also Sold As: New York Strip, Kansas City Strip, Top Sirloin (which has nothing to do with the Sirloin primal of the steer, or the Sirloin Steak, which is an entirely different cut)..."

I do get your meaning, however I have never known Top Sirloin to be either "sold as", confused with, or in any way synonymous with Strip Steak.

I think you wrote "Top Sirloin" but meant "Sirloin Strip". Because as you know (contrary to what you wrote), Top Sirloin is of course a section of the Sirloin primal.

Gimme Your Burger Lab Requests!

Should chuck be cooked to medium-well?

To summarize Pete Neumann of

Chuck has a higher portion of collagen (connective tissue), which when melted gives chuck its pleasing beefy flavor. The temperature for medium-rare is about 130F; however collagen doesn't melt until 155F. So to attain the full flavor potential of chuck, it should be cooked to medium-well.

Kenji, like most of us, you like your burger cooked to a medium-rare 130F. But do you think this notion of a drier yet more flavorful chuck burger is preferable over a juicier but less tasty one?

In other words, should an exception be made for chuck?

Thank you.

Link to full article:

Why does shrimp quality vary in restaurants?

Thanks guys. I found a good article at the link below, entitled, "All Shrimp Are Not the Same"

Los Angeles: The Six Makes a Burger That is Nearly a Ten

@ Damon

1. Thanks for often giving some background about the owners or chefs in your reviews.

2. The issue with the partially solid cheese should have been expressed with more manly directness. "My only misgiving"? That's a pretty messed up situation. It's an obvious problem that was visible to the cook and server before it made its way to you. And it could have been remedied pretty easily.

The Food Lab: More Tips For Perfect Steaks

It seems people are now scared to flip their steak only once. Let's not exaggerate the importance of flipping.

In his steak article above, Kenji references his article on flipping burgers to emphasize the importance of flipping steaks often as well.

In the burger test, the technical data showed that flipping often will give the burger 40% less overcooked meat.

However, the end result of the test was not significant as far as taste. As Kenji says himself in the quote below:

"And how did they taste? Well, to be honest, there wasn't a huge difference between [the burgers flipped once, and the burgers flipped often]. I would be very hard pressed to put them in the correct order, or even pick out the best and worst if I were blind-folded...Moral of the story? All you supple-wristed crazy flippers out there, don't worry: you're doing the right thing. And for all you single flippers out there? Well, you can keep doing what you're doing and it probably won't hurt your burgers none, but lighten up a bit, will ya?"

My point is that the results are not definitive as far as sensory perception. And there is no reason to start replacing one prejudice with another. Flipping once or often is simply not a big deal.

Questionable Burger Advice

@ ajmill78

“Buttering the outside of a grilled burger is a waste of butter - it just melts off.”

Melted butter can just as easily be brushed on a grilled burger, as your pan-seared burger.

“Toppings and condiments are generally separate items because they add distinct textures and flavors.”

Agreed. A simple point not made often enough.

What you describe as the “real debate” over a closed or open hood, is not a debate, but rather mere scientific fact or truism. There is however a real debate, and thus far avoided here, about the off-taste imparted by a closed hood.

Cook’s Illustrated: “No matter how we build a charcoal fire for grilling, we always leave the cover off. Over time, soot and resinous compounds can build up on the inside of the kettle grill lid, which can then impart an off flavor, reminiscent of stale smoke, to the food. This effect is most noticeable in fish and poultry.”

ajmill78: “for a burger, it probably doesn't matter if one side or both is crispy because when you take a bite and chew it, it all gets mashed together anyways.”

True enough. But as with first impressions, the flavor-burst from first bite (and ensuing "first" bites) are focal. Though he exaggerates the top char time, I do give some credence to Ozersky’s Top Crust/Top Mouth angle. The top of the mouth is important; after all, there's a reason why we don’t stack everything UNDER the patty.

Anyway, consciously or not, I think we all give a bit more char time to the first-side-down already.

Questionable Burger Advice

@healthytouch. I'm down with the relativist notion. But there IS such a thing as ideal form, or an approximation of it, (at the very least for the theoretical fun of it). MY idea of a good burger might be to eat it freeze dried, but that's not going to advance the burger very far in the public realm.

@meatntaters. You couldn't overthink if you wanted to.

Questionable Burger Advice

@ Aya. To be fair I should direct quote Ozersky: "You should cook [the burger] almost all the way on one side, then you flip it and cheese it. It doesn't matter if the bottom is crusty, who cares? You don't see the bottom; you're top top teeth don't get the bottom; the cheese doesn't melt on the bottom; you don't see the bottom; the bottom doesn't matter, only the top matters. You'd rather have it twice as crunchy on one side, and have the bottom, just gray."

It's not a vacant concept, but it's a bit flamboyant and doesn't account for over-char.


AHT Poll: What Cheese Do You Like Most on Your Burger?

Strange how the results were not listed in any kind of order.

San Diego: Neighborhood's 777 Burger is a 10

The reviewer did not seem like she thought this was a 10 quality burger. As a foodie, she should take burgers a bit more seriously than to say that a burger is a 10...all because she thinks it'd make a cutesy subject heading along-side 777.

San Diego: Neighborhood's 777 Burger is a 10

It's simply not a big deal when a burger is cut in half. Not as much juice is lost as you'd think. And it makes it way easier to eat.

Laguna Niguel, CA: Deemer's American Grill Is the Best New Burger Chain (That Isn't One Yet)

Their burgers are very good. Not great. And surely not a "wow" burger. And at about $12.50 for a medium combo meal, overpriced. But it's a wealthy community so they can charge this much.

The bun is tops. Soft, fluffy, substantial...but not cumbersome.

The toppings are fresh and tasty, as are the various cheeses. The goat cheese packs a punch. It is used a little too thickly. Ask them to go easy on it, as it overwhelms the beef as currently applied.

Their default doneness is medium-well. Strange. But at least they post this fact, so you are aware. But in effect, if you forget to mention how you like it; your burger will be dry. That's a lot of money for a dry burger. Luckily I remembered to specify.

The patty is juicy and is NOT packed to densely, (unlike 5 Guys). Whoever is forming the patties is mindful not to pack to hard. \

Overall, quite a good burger. However the pleasure is primarily derived from the quality of toppings, and sauces, than to the patty itself. It's what I'd call a wet sandwich. In a good way.

The patty should have more char or crust. And since it does not, it seems a bit hidden.

Dill pickle spear on the side was superb, and reflected their commitment to fresh ingredients.

Fries were better than average, and all were crispy. (Not just the ones on top).

Service is friendlier than a lot of burger joints. And the managers are especially friendly.

The place is very clean and pleasant. The menus are clear. There is a sizable outside seating area with movable umbrellas to block the sun. And tables of varying sizes to accommodate either couples or families.

Fast Fixes after Screwing Up

Regarding fix for smoke problem:

When cooking burger on stove using cast iron skillet, my house fills with smoke. I am thinking about heating the skillet up very hot, then immediately taking it outside to cook the burger. Do you think the skillet will remain hot enough? Has anyone tried this. (In case you're wondering, I would place skillet on top of my "cold" grill grates, just as a comfortable, safe working surface).


JacquelineS: "Why is nearly every negative adjective in quotations?"

Hilarious :)

My worst burgers have been Wendy's for the last 20 years. Yes, they were noticeably worse than the other chains. Trust me, I'm a fast food junkie. Looks like they finally got the message and are doing something about it.

Taste Test: Barbecue Sauce

The article states that "you found some decent sauces", yet the highest rating was a 5.7 with a lackluster review. Why even bother?

What Are Your Constitutional Burger Rights & Demands

I don't expect perfection, but at the VERY least:

1. Bun should not overwhelm burger

2. Burger should fit in my mouth in a semi-civilized way, without me having to morph into Jaws.

3. Burger should have char, or at least not a hint of the steam-effect.

4. Bun should be toasted, with sheen of butter.

Fast Fixes after Screwing Up

Thank you Boobird and others.

I thought that depriving air to a smoke alarm, with something like a shower cap, would set it off. I guess I'm wrong.

@Dhorst, I'm not sure if you're kidding about the blowtorch, but it gave me an idea. Next time I'll experiment with a long-armed butane "jet" lighter. (The common type used for lighting grills in windy conditions). I'm not sure if the butane will impart an off-taste to the cheese. We'll see.


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