JEFF TIEDEMAN: Burgers, hot dogs made to orderCustomize burgers, hot dogs to suit your tastes.
I don’t mind a messy burger or hot dog. Pardon the pun, but I relish them.
And from what I’ve been reading the past couple of weeks, there must be a lot of other people who share my sentiments.
A case in point: A food series by Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch titled “20 Burgers of Summer,” kicked off with the “Spike Burger,” by Spike Mendelsohn, whose Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., is a favorite of first lady Michelle Obama.
His pan-fried patty of ground sirloin is topped with bacon, a fried egg and a slice of American cheese, which then gets placed on a toasted brioche bun and topped with freshly made corned beef hash. Mendelsohn finishes with his go-to burger condiment — Good Stuff Sauce, a homemade mayonnaise that is spiked with ketchup, molasses and vinegar.
On Week 2, Christopher Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines served up a cheeseburger topped with a sauce comprising ketchup, sweet pickle relish, sugar, white vinegar and ground black pepper.
And on Week 3, Marcus Samuelsson, who got his start at a three-star Michelin restaurant in France and oversaw President Barack Obama’s first state dinner, put out a buffalo burger with a spicy sauce (ketchup, red bell and poblano peppers, Dijon mustard, horseradish, smoked paprika, chili and garlic powder, black pepper and Tabasco) that is enhanced with a fried egg, heirloom tomatoes, Napa cabbage and red onion.
I also discovered that there are numerous restaurant chains that give customers the opportunity to create their own burgers.
For example, Green Mill lets you choose your own meat (Black Angus, veggie or chicken), bun (sesame, egg, ciabatta), sauce (12 different kinds), dairy (10 cheeses or fried egg) and veggies (14).
Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries, which has more than 550 locations in 35 states (a new one just opened in Fargo), touts more than 250,000 possible ways to order a burger because of their different sauces and toppings.
Then, there’s the Counter, a chic “build-your-own” burger chain that’s becoming a word-of-mouth sensation in Southern California and is expanding nationally. A burger with sun-dried-tomato vinaigrette, provolone, fried onions, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato is just one of more than 300,000 combinations possible, the Counter says.
Hot dogs are no different. At Pink’s, a landmark restaurant in Los Angeles where you can choose your own toppings, more than a dozen specialty hot dogs are available, as well as some named after celebrities who actually ordered them. (One is the “Martha Stewart Dog” with mustard, relish, onions, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, bacon and sour cream. Another is the “Ozzy Spicy Dog,” named for Ozzy Osbourne, which features a Polish sausage, nacho cheese, American cheese, grilled onions, guacamole and chopped tomatoes.)
Nathan’s Famous, which claims to have sold more than 360 million hot dogs nationwide last year, offers toppings that include chili, cheese, sauerkraut, red onions and salsa.
I’m still trying to digest all those possible combinations. My idea of loading up a burger is some fried onions (and maybe a few mushrooms), ketchup, mustard and cheese.
The same goes with hot dogs, brats or Polish — a little ketchup and mustard and perhaps some sauerkraut.
And at that, there better be a lot of napkins!
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.