Interesting take on an everyday item. I can't disagree with the major premises, and the pictures make me hungry as they are supposed to. Currently, my favorite in the sandwich category is found at Books and Books on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. It is hand-carved roasted turkey breast, slices of fresh pear, brie, watercress, and mango chutney butter on fresh Ciabatta pressed on the grill. They cut it into thirds, and it is very filling but very good. Avoid the fries; they are wonderful but way too filling (ha-ha). It matches well with their tropical iced tea and, of course, the people watching on Lincoln Road.
I love food science!
I follow the Cook's Illustrated recipe (can I write that here?) and have great results.
I brine in a large stockpot that I have had for years. It goes in the "workshop" fridge--my extra one that used to be the main one moved out when we purchased a new one, but I finally broke down and purchased a cheap energy star model on sale a few years ago. My electric bill went down significantly as well, probably because the old one was 20 years old. I clear out the bottom, put the salt, water, and turkey in the brine, and have at it. Then, I take it out the next day, let it sit overnight in the fridge uncovered on a broiler pan to catch the dripping brine and dry the skin, then season and cook at very high heat for 15-minute intervals while rotating the bird 1/4 turn every 15. Then, after the full 360 rotation, I lower the temp and finish the bird, breast side down. The final 15 min are spent with the breast side up, which finishes the browning. While I was a chem major in college, I have no idea of the science behind all this, but these are the best turkeys I have ever cooked. One year we had 18 guests; they agreed. It is a lot of work, but only once a year, so no big deal. That's my story!
Great article. This was something I found out several years ago as my daughter decided to "love" scallops(!) As for the fake stuff, here is part of an article from 2012 down here in FL:
"Warner declined to discuss individual restaurants and stores where the fraud allegedly occurred but said she was "shocked" to find seafood fraud levels at 31 percent despite Florida's active response by state officials to combat it over the past 30 years. A total of 16 restaurants, 15 sushi restaurants, and 29 grocery stores -- including those that were Zagat-rated and Yelp-recommended for seafood -- were used in the testing, from Lake Worth to Key West. Of the 96 samples tested from 60 South Florida retailers, Oceana found that sushi restaurants had the highest rates of mislabeled samples (58 percent), and all white tuna samples were found to be escolar, a species that can make people sick." Whole article:
We have good monitoring here, but still, over half of sushi places and over 30% of other places are selling fake food at high prices. Luckily, being in SOFL, we have a number of small mom-and-pop (Pop's in Deerfield Beach, for one) fish mongers who sell only freshly-caught items, so I use them exclusively except for Costco. You can't get better cold water lobster tails for the price (unless you dive for them yourself) than at our local Costco, and scallops are also dry and good, if sometimes frozen.
On another topic, what many people may not know about shrimp is that 95% of them are frozen on the boat right after catching and cleaning (wild shrimp). We get fresh Key West shrimp here on the FL East coast several months per year. On our West coast, the fresh Gulf shrimp are awesome. Otherwise, I buy in bulk (5 lb blocks) from our local wholesaler (my neighbor, luckily), and pay a reasonable price depending upon size. By the way, did you know that there are U-8 shrimp available? They are as big as small lobster tails and very interesting to deal with.
Thanks for a very informative article, as usual.
Lots of good and interesting comments. I am an OM fan, but have discovered that Smithfield thick cut is pretty good, if somewhat different in taste from OM. As far as apple wood and cherry wood and so forth, this is good if you like your bacon sweet. I do not care for sweet bacon, so I stick to OM and Smithfield. I have tried Hormel, Publix brand, and a couple of others, including Neuske's, which I did not like AT ALL, unfortunately--I gave it away it was so bad--but still prefer those two. I cook a package and put the remaining strips in the fridge in a sandwich bag to eat the next day. I have discovered that the flavor changes quite a bit (on the GOOD SIDE) when left overnight in the fridge. I also believe that bacon cooked in the oven tastes much different from bacon fried in a pan on the stove which tastes different from bacon cooked in the microwave (special bacon-cooking tray many years old--http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Franklin-Machine-Products-136-1022---Bacon-Tray-c81p56511.html?st-t=google_shopping&vt-k=&vt-pti=98378489095&gclid=CKWX_aC_t8YCFZKFaQod9iYK_w). Try it and see.
Not a bad recipe, but this one is much better and I have made it many times:
As for Samcee, go to Austin and eat at a few of the better CFS places down there before you criticize a dish you have never had. It might not be "politically correct" in your world, but most of us don't live in such narrow places and enjoy dishes from various cuisines. Why else are you on this site? If you are too fat to eat this dish a couple times a year, get off your duff and exercise. No one said it had to be the only thing you ate for the rest of your life, but you can add kale on the side if you want instead of greens if that makes you feel better or something.
Fried chicken and fresh-baked dinner rolls like the Porthole in Chapel Hill served for many, many years!
As a former college roommate used to say with a VERY Cockney accent, stolen from a film, I suppose, "Bottle o' beer an an 'amburger, please!"
Like @tea-and-syncope, I find cheese snacks pretty disappointing for the most part. It must be because to me, cheese on a cracker tastes better. Stoned Wheat Thins from Canada and Carr's plain round crackers add the least overtones to the cheeses I like, which include Beemster gouda and Finlandia Swiss, for two. As for Cheeze-its, I have tried and tried to like them, but they always have a chemical rather than cheese taste to me. Some people can't tolerate cilantro, so I suppose that this shows that the same chemicals taste differently to different people. Not to worry...I love many other snacks that are bad for me (regular chips from Jimmy Johns for example), so I don't feel slighted by not liking Cheeze-its.
GREAT VIDEO! For the commenters who want one:
My friend recently bought a giant inflatable plastic ball that a person crawls into and rolls around on the ground in. Supposedly you play a game with these when you have several people with them. They cost about 200.00, however, but look like fun. I will try it out eventually and try to post.
I only have two:
Luger Burger at Peter Luger's in Brooklyn with an order of bacon ON THE SIDE. I don't care for bacon on a burger, but I do love bacon!
Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern, NYC
Shake Shack opened here some time ago and it was OK; nothing to write home about. I visited my brother in CA over xmas and went to In and Out. It was really good...better for its segment in the industry than Shake Shack is for its segment, in my opinion.
I know, NY people may disagree, but that's why we all have opinions!
Not to get off on the cultural thing too much, but some Americans think things like BMWs (some made here now in SC) are "luxury" items, and this is true with various other "imported" items that are either not anywhere as good as similar items made here, even given the transfer of many US manufacturing jobs, or are overpriced and simply marketed well. Marketing is the key, and of course, SlideSF is completely correct with his analysis. I wonder how a Stir Crazy, Panda Express, or Chipolte would do in Nam?
Grilling out here in South Florida while the super corp execs freeze at the game. Well, they have fancy heated suites and all, but I would LOVE to have Mr. LaFrieda's world-famous sliders on my grill for my family and friends as we enjoy the game and our weather. Oh, all ya'll are invited, of course. Come on down for the best sliders you can eat!
@Chuckswagon's list and the associated addenda seems to be a more historical, thus one would postulate, accurate list of "influential" burgers. I think I go with the McDonald's 12-cent burger (and 15-cent cheeseburger) as being rightly placed on the list. The Big Boy was the first well-known stacked burger, thus the Big Mac, while clearly essential to corporate growth and branding, has to take a timeline backseat to the Big Boy. Personally, I was eating Big Boy's (Shoney's and Bob's, in my case) WAY before McDonald's opened on Mercury Blvd. There was a Burger Chef about the same time as McDonald's, if not before, in my area as well, and we ate there almost as much as at McDonald's. Of course, the fries were the draw, but Burger Chef burgers were a lot better.
I will be eating more of them. A recent trip to the San Diego area re-invigorated my burger addiction. Yes, I went to In and Out for the first time in many years, and it was surprisingly good. Their sometimes-derided fries were just fine, thank you. The real winner was a relatively new place called Searsucker at some mall somewhere...my brother knows since he lives there and, unbelievable as it may sound, there seems to be a mall on every corner of every street I think. Anyway, we ended up at this place since another one they wanted me to try was closed unexpectedly. The burger was WAY better than it had any right to be, and the fries were amazing...duck fat may be involved. Anyway, I am now going to start going around locally and trying more burgers in 2014!
Once again, our local place, Charm City, has the best burger in South Florida. I personally only eat their "Good Ol'" medium rare without the cheese.
They may take their name from Baltimore's nickname, but they have brought a great burger to our area. Shake Shack opened, but I only went once so I can't judge them fairly. However, it was evident at first bite that Charm City was better, so even though I will try SS again, CC is the best down here so far!
I would try #5 and, uh, well, #5, which seems to consist of the ingredients one generally finds on a hamburger.
I have no issues with the others; I just don't personally care for their various ingredients.
Funny! For some reason, every time I have tried JIB when in CA I have not been happy with any of the food, and I get pretty mundane items...simple burgers and fries, nuggets, etc. I don't even stray from a soda, yet every time I go with high anticipation, I end up tossing most of the food and going to a restaurant instead. Maybe JIB is a ploy by regular restaurant owners to get people to come in...who knows?
Unfortunately, the Sonic here is the same...really awful. I took classes in Chinese cooking and can follow the instructions and make a darn good meal--due to good recipes. Then, I go to a "good" Chinese restaurant, and boy, is the food mostly horrible compared to the simple things I make at home. I don't get that any more than I get why huge FF places can't turn out edible, if low quality, food.
Gotta go with the other comments. I don't mind innovation once you get the basics right; if fried eggs and avocados make your burger better, have at it. Personally, I only like the basics...I would get the CA without the tomato...and be very happy. Fries, too. I am not as picky as some as long as they are hot and crisp. I have had the fun of seeing them made at the plant, so I know what I am getting.
There was a dog and a hamburger on, too?
Lots of comments on the new fries. I will have to return to the crazy-looking Shake Shack building here in Boca, which is fairly new. I went opening week and the line was very long at a weird time...around 3 pm, I believe. As a burger lover like other posters, I go for the beef. I don't even get cheese, and after viewing the product being given to customers, I ordered a double to ensure that I got a good beef portion. I get lettuce and raw onion since that is what I like, and I added a bit of yellow mustard after a few bites since mine was a bit dry, but that is OK for my personal tastes. I like the combo of raw onion and yellow mustard with a burger. The fries were good...yes, frozen, but fried properly and there were a ton of them. It is NOT fair to judge a place on opening week and definitely not on one visit, so I will go back again and then again when they switch to fresh fries. So far, well, it was OK, but nothing special, and it was pretty expensive. We have a local place...who doesn't?...called Charm City that is the best around here and a tiny bit less expensive. They serve fresh fries, but during rush hour they are not as good as when they are less busy. Clearly this will be a challenge for SS as they ramp up this product. However, with training and so forth they should be fine. For comparison, I have tried 5 Guys several times and simply don't get it. Hot, fresh, nice, tasteless burgers and way too many fries for a single order. I tried our local Smashburger and it was OK, but I need to get back for a double and regular fries. Their rosemary ones are overpowering that they numbed my taste buds for the burger, which was thin compared to the bun, thus I will do as I did with SS and get a double to see how that tastes. My guess is that SS will come out on top for beef taste. What a tough set of assignments I have given myself, huh? I feel so sorry for JKL-A and team...
IF the Minetta Tavern black label burger and the Peter Luger lunch burger are as good as everyone says, I would gladly pay whatever the price was to eat one of each. Whether I would go back OFTEN is another question; however, if they live up to their reviews, I would gladly pay the going rate whenever I wanted one. Special foods are typically priced above average...that is why they are special. Obviously you are eating at a restaurant, so the prices cover all the costs of running a restaurant as well as the food cost in these two burgers.
On the other hand, paying $20 for a Big Mac would be silly, but then it is not a "special" burger to me, but it may be for someone else. Since I don't care for expensive toppings like Foie Gras, etc., I would not pay extra for them, but if I did, I would probably try the dish if I could afford to pay for it. Also, as everyone knows, overhead varies by location, so an "expensive" burger in NYC might be less "expensive" in a city or town that did not have the high overhead that a NYC establishment has.
@alrui, Thanks very much for your comments...I haven't eaten there in so long, and I remember actually liking their double cheese and their crispy chicken sandwiches in the '70s when I was younger and hungrier(!) that I thought I would be OK with it. I also remember watching them cook the burgers on the grill when we used to go inside back then, but I remember that at McDonald's, too, in the old days when the burgers were 15 cents and fries were 11 or 12 cents, I think. I guess mass production has decreed that these companies can no longer actually serve real food. It kind of reminds me of the JD Robb books that take place in the near future where most people eat soy dogs and marvel over being wealthy enough to eat "real beef." If I were to be a consultant to one of these companies (and who needs me, right?) I would suggest concentrating on their core products and improving them. I guess profits trump taste every time. I will stick with our local wonderful place, Charm City, I guess. I tried Smashburger--not bad, but the rosemary fries have too much of a good thing...rosemary...and our new Shake Shack served me lots of fries like they do at Five Guys, but like them, the beef was rather tasteless. I cook Chinese food at home that tastes really good and I always wonder how a restaurant can mess up such simple dishes. I guess burgers are similar as they are not as easy to make in the restaurant setting as they should be. I know, everything tastes better at home, usually, but if your main product is a hamburger, why can't you actually make a good one? This site is great for finding great restaurant burgers, but unfortunately I don't get to NYC to try most of them. I will when I can, though; look out, Peter Luger!
I was hungry for a quick burger last Sunday and was in a hurry. I have not eaten at Wendy's in a while and it was convenient to my travel direction, so I ordered a single cheese with mustard, onions, pickles. After three bites I realized that I was actually tasting the beef and that it had a very "off" taste. Since I have not eaten there in a while, I was trying to decide if I got a "bad" burger or if their beef simply tasted funny. Anyone's thoughts?
Eating freshly grilled hamburgers at the pool at the Williamsburg Inn while my mom and dad played golf. Great day for a 7-year old. They would roll out a huge stainless cart around 11:30 am and the pool patrons would line up for either a burger or a dog. Sometimes I would get to eat two burgers on days when I was there for a long time. Great memories!
Personally, I don't care for sugar in whipped cream since I love the taste of plain heavy whipping cream, whipped or not! But, I do understand why many people put a dash or two of powdered sugar in it during whipping. Since it is usually served with a very sweet dessert, to me keeping it plain helps combat the sweetness of the dish. As for the burger, that's too bad. Professional chefs of high repute like this should manage their places so that the food is first rate. Who knows, maybe people are more impressed by the price than the flavors? This IS Vegas, after all, right?