The Big Burger Book

Summertime means burgers. And my family LOVES hamburgers. So I thought it would be perfect to do the burger book right before Memorial Day weekend – the official kick off for summer. The kids were thrilled. They thought that meant cheeseburgers every day. Preferably with a free toy. Little did they know what I was really going to do!

I picked up this cookbook about 10 years ago when my brother was living with me in Kansas City. My brother loves burgers. He’s made a science around making the perfect burger. And since I can’t beat him with the classics, I thought I’d defeat him with creativity. When I saw this book on the $5 table at Barnes and Noble, it was a no brainer. But I really didn’t capitalize on the book until this week – it sat dormant on the shelf. Ready to see how it (or me!) performed?

The Recipes
Classic Beef Burgers
Kick-Ass Ketchup
Chicken Satay Burgers with Peanut Sauce
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Sloppy Joes
Mushroom Goat Cheese Burgers
Sun Dried Tomato Chutney
Honey Whole Wheat with Seeds
Hellenic Lamb Burgers
Eggplant Feta Salad 

The Good
Overall, this was a pretty good week. The recipes are really straight forward and fairly easy to put together – the sizing/cooking part is what’s tricky. Most are pretty quick to make, so great options for weeknight meals. And the kids ate almost everything. The honey whole wheat didn’t look pretty, but it was really delicious. I thought the chicken satay burgers were surprisingly good – the kids called them chicken peanut butter burgers. The mushroom burgers were a sleeper hit – the kids asked what the meat was, proving the meaty-ness of mushrooms. The foodie in me smiled! The biggest hit was the lamb burgers. It involved chanting “Mom-mmy, mom-mmy” and H gushing over how good it was. Jeff and I still aren’t sure if they were serious or not.

The Bad
It rained most of the week, so that was bad. What was worse – rain means making burgers inside. Let’s just say there was a lot of flying grease and I was really happy we invested in a good vent during the reno. While I think everything tasted as it should, my burgers DEFINITELY didn’t resemble the handful of beauty-shots in the middle of the cookbook. Ingredient lists are pretty easy to access, but you have to pay attention to the number of servings – some serve 4, some serve 6, some serve 1 – so fully reading directions is key. Personally, I liked all the side/garnishes that accompany the recipes – salads, chutney, etc…but the flavors were a bit strong for the rest of the fam.

The Ugly
Hmmm – probably C stabbing his lamb burger with his triton (fork) and nibbling around the edges – or perhaps H licking her lamb burger before chanting “Mom-mee! Mom-mee.” I have to admit that was a bit of a surreal experience – probably something that she learned from the kindergarten lunchroom. Cooking the burgers inside is a little trickier – and then you see the fat in the pan. At least with grilling it drips to the bottom…out of sight, out of mind. Not the case with the classic burgers and the lamb burgers. But the chicken satay was ok and the mushroom burgers were baked, so those were healthier options.

The Big Burger Book
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
There were a lot of things to like about this cookbook, but there is also a lot in here I wouldn’t use. Some great vegetarian options, and to be honest, I never would have made a lamb burger before, but after the cheer squad response, I’ll definitely try it again. The authors included a nice introductory chapter that covers overall tips, food safety, and other foundational info that leads to a better burger. What I didn’t like – burger shrinkage. Either store bought buns are ridiculously large, the portioning wasn’t perfect, or a bit of both – but my patties were always too small for the buns. A lot of these burgers felt like sliders. Maybe that’s the point – my portions are out of whack? Wouldn’t be the first time. Seek this book out if you’re trying to impress that backyard grill warrior or if you have a brother you’d like to show up on occasion.

Next up – a trip to the bakery with Flour. It’s my birthday week – so bring on the treats!

One thought on “The Big Burger Book

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